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Clinicians baffled by number of dengue deaths, says health official

Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr. Karen Webster Kerr, Everton Baker, Project Manager of the Ministry of Health's Dengue Logistics Programme and JTA President Owen Speid
 
A Ministry of Health official has revealed that clinicians have been stumped by the high number of Jamaicans who have died over the last two years after contracting the dengue virus.
 
From 2018 to last year, there were 81 confirmed or suspected deaths from the mosquito borne disease.
 
The period has been described as Jamaica's worst dengue fever outbreak in a generation.
 
Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr. Karen Webster Kerr says clinicians have acknowledged that this outbreak is different, but they have not yet figured out the reason. 
 
"Even in this outbreak, earlier in 2019, around the end of January, we had a peak amount of cases and we had a peak amount of hospitalisation. In September, same dengue type 3 was presenting more severe. So in September to October, we saw an increase in hospital admission. Some say it could be genetic. We're not sure. Based on what we get from PAHO, the genes are the same," she outlined. 
 
The majority of deaths have been children.
 
National clean-up 
 
In the meantime, Everton Baker, Project Manager of the Ministry of Health's Dengue Logistics Programme, is appealing for Jamaicans to participate in this week's three day national clean-up project. 
 
The clean-up will begin on Friday, where schools will be mobilised to search and destroy mosquito breeding sites.
 
Saturday will be a national set up, 
 
Similar to national Labour Day activities, there will be national and parish sites for clean-up on Saturday, which will be assisted by the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) and the National Works Agency (NWA).
 
On Sunday, the focus will be on households.
 
Strain on schools 
  
The Jamaica Teacher's Association (JTA) has said it has been difficult for school administrators to handle cases of children dying from dengue.
 
JTA President Owen Speid said the deaths put a strain on schools because they do not have enough human resources to provide adequate counselling when children are psychologically affected by the death of their peers or siblings.  
 


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