SAN JUAN – The Zika virus poses a threat to public health in Jamaica, Health Minister Horace Dalley said Wednesday, adding that authorities have intensified efforts to eradicate breeding sites of the mosquitoes that spread the illness.
“There is no way that we alone from the public purse can combat the spread of this mosquito and therefore every single church, every school administrator, every work site, every factory, everywhere that people are gathered, every family must understand that this Zika virus is a threat to the public health of Jamaica,” Dalley said in a statement.
Zika, like dengue fever and the Chikungunya virus, is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito.
Dalley said the health ministry will intensify mosquito control programs while ensuring that there is adequate supply of pharmaceuticals, among other necessities needed for the possible arrival of the Zika virus in Jamaica.
Though the illness is rarely deadly, the current Zika outbreak in Brazil has been linked to a massive surge in the number of babies born with abnormally small heads, a condition known as microcephaly.
“The Zika virus is inching closer and closer to Jamaica as several of our Caribbean neighbors have reported cases. Women are therefore being advised to delay pregnancy if possible,” Dalley said Tuesday.