HEALTH Minister Terrence Deyalsingh has lauded the success of his ministry to dramatically reduce the number of Zika, chikungunya and dengue cases between 2016 to date. He commended the Public Health Department and expressed his gratitude to the officers for the results.
However, the minister said he is worried about the spread of leptospirosis during the rainy season. Deyalsingh said over the past two and a half years, through the use of technology and other methods, they have been tracking the mosquito-borne diseases.
He said results show the number of Zika cases have moved from 717 in 2016 to one case in 2017 and as of June 11, 2018 there are no confirmed cases. Similarly, for the period, the chikungunya statistics have shown a decline from nine cases in 2016, to zero in 2017 and zero in 2018 to date.
However, he said this is not the yardstick by which to measure their success since these diseases each carry one strain of the virus and once contracted, patients have an immunity for life.
He said the real marker is the dengue virus, which has four strains. From 81 confirmed cases in 2016, there was a significant reduction to eight cases in 2017 and only two, to date.
The minister commended the public health department for this achievement as he outlined strategies by different agencies, including the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management, and the Ministry of Rural Development and Local Government, to deal with the effects of the rainy season.
His ministry has the responsibility to ease the incidences of diseases arising from flooding.
Pointing out that chikungunya, dengue, zika and yellow fever area all mosquito-borne diseases transmitted to humans via the Aedes Aegypti, Deyalsingh said source reduction lies with homeowners if they keep their premises clean.
He said government would not hesitate to enforce the Yellow Fever Act to charge homeowners not in compliance with the law.
Six people have been charged since the law was amended, Deyalsingh said.
At an inter-agency media conference in San Fernando on Wednesday, to outline the ministry’s readiness for the rainy season, Deyalsingh said one of their major concerns is the spread of flood-borne diseases, especially leptospirosis
Deyalsingh said contrary to what most people believe, leptospirosis is not only spread by rats, but also by livestock. He called on farmers especially, to protect themselves and outlined precautionary measures to dispose of animal carcases.
“Leptospirosis bacteria is not only carried by rats, it is also carried by other livestock like pigs.
In the rainy season, if you are going to dispose of a carcass, whether it is a cattle or cow or even a rat, you do not hold it with your bare hands. If you are going to venture into floods, wear boots and gloves.” He said if gloves are not available a simple garbage bag could do the trick.