Ferguson admits chikungunya spreading to western Jamaica

KINGSTON, Jamaica — Minister of Health, Dr Fenton Ferguson, said Tuesday that Jamaica has not yet peaked in terms of the expected spread of the chikungunya epidemic.

Dr Ferguson told the House of Representatives that the parishes which had suffered the epidemic earliest have already peaked including St Thomas, are now seeing a downward trend.

“But, as you go further west you are going to be seeing more persons affected,” Ferguson said.

However, he explained that it was not the movement of mosquitoes which was causing the spread, but the movement of people.

“A person who is infected in St Thomas, leaves and goes to Montego Bay, is bitten by the aedes aegypti mosquito in Montego Bay and, after eight days, can infect someone there. So we will continue to get the spread, but we have to continue to manage the source reduction while we kill the adult mosquitoes,” he said.

He added that, in terms of the aerial spraying, there was still concern about it, as it relates to people with respiratory illnesses and bee keepers who have suffered losses. He said that discussions were still taking place.

“In fact, I have been approached by private sector persons who want to give support. (But) I am still awaiting the best advice, before making such decision. So it is not a closed thing,” he stated.

Ferguson admitted that his ministry has been pursuing the use of using genetically modified mosquitoes to get rid of the virus carrying vectors. He said that it is something the ministry has been pursuing with Jamaica’s high commission in London and is looking at that possibility.

He said that his Ministry was also moving to strengthen its public relations department, as well as cooperating with the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) and the medical doctors associations to assist with public education.

Balford Henry

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