Jamaica on malaria alert
KINGSTON — The health sector is in a frenzy after the revelation that a Jamaican was on the weekend diagnosed with the highly contagious disease, malaria, after a recent visit to a country on the African continent.
Health officials were yesterday rushing to identify all persons with whom the patient might have come in contact in order to administer the necessary treatment to prevent an outbreak of the disease.
The Gleaner understands that the victim, who is a videographer from Cardiff Hall, St. Ann, was diagnosed with the disease weeks after his overseas trip, meaning more persons are at risk of catching the illness.
It is also believed that the victim attended a major music festival over the Christmas holidays.
Reports are that public health officials have been visiting the area since the incident. Some health professionals were seen doing checks in the St. Ann community yesterday.
Chairman of the North East Regional Health Authority, Leon Gordon, confirmed the malaria case.
Gordon said the infected man was hospitalised and isolated in order to be treated for the illness.
However, Gordon was quick to point out that there was no need for persons to panic.
He said the health department was addressing the problem with urgency.
“He has responded to treatment and the region has contacted persons with whom he had close contact and advised those persons, as well as the medical facilities in the areas (where) those persons are, so that they can take the necessary precaution,” he said.
“It is a concern and that is why we are taking the necessary precautionary measures, but to date we have had no other report of anybody else coming down with the illness.”
When quizzed, Gordon conceded that it would be difficult to identify everyone with whom the man had come in contact given that he was not aware of his illness until recently.
“He would not have known that he was carrying that virus until he came down with it. He travelled on aircraft to Jamaica, so it is difficult but we just have to deal with it as rationally as possible,” said Gordon. (Gleaner)