Health Ministry Implements Precautionary Plan to Combat West Nile Fever

Amman, July 10 (Petra) – Secretary-General of the Ministry of Health for Primary Health Care and Epidemiology, Raed Shaboul, announced that the ministry has prepared a plan to address West Nile fever, which includes an introduction to the disease, the local epidemiological situation, the ministry’s preparedness, and the role of national partner institutions in intensifying the spraying and control of vectors (insects and mosquitoes).

Shaboul explained that West Nile fever is a common disease transmitted from infected birds to humans through domestic mosquito bites. Humans are the last reservoir of the virus, meaning it is not transmitted from person to person, and the infected person does not need isolation. “The disease is not considered a serious threat to public health in the Kingdom, and no spread has been recorded since 2020, during which only six cases were reported,” he added.

Shaboul pointed out that 80 percent of Nile fever cases are asymptomatic, while symptoms may appear in the remaining 20 percent, with only one percent of symptomatic cases experiencing severe symptoms (acute encephalitis).

Shaboul explained in a statement to the Jordan News Agency (Petra) that after receiving reports of West Nile fever cases in neighboring countries, a meeting of the National Committee for Combating Epidemics was held earlier this month to develop national recommendations for combating and preventing the disease’s spread.

He emphasized that the Ministry of Health has a selected monitoring program (AFI) where suspected cases are monitored in selected locations, and any unexplained rise in body temperature is considered suspicious, requiring samples for examination in the central laboratory. These locations have been chosen to geographically represent the most at-risk areas, including the Ghoriyeh and Shifa Ghoriyeh regions, where domestic mosquitoes are prevalent.

He noted that the ministry has activated active surveillance in selected high-risk locations by increasing the number of samples for suspected cases.

All staff in health institutions (hospitals and health centers) have been informed about the mechanism for handling disease cases if they are reported.

Shaboul stated that the ministry has a detailed map of domestic mosquito spread based on studies, highlighting all types of vectors for various diseases. The Ministry conducts necessary tests within this program for more than 15 disease-causing pathogens, including West Nile fever, and an antibody test for the fever is also available.

Shaboul emphasized that the Ministry of Health provides all laboratory tests for infectious diseases of epidemiological concern and is prepared to address and diagnose any epidemic promptly. He highlighted that these tests are free for all suspected cases in the Kingdom, regardless of the nationality of the infected person.

The ministry has circulated information related to the disease and vectors to all affiliated health institutions, the Royal Medical Services, university hospitals, and private sector hospitals. Technical material, including awareness brochures about the disease, personal protection methods, and vectors, has been prepared.

Shaboul explained that liaison officers have been appointed to follow up on any suspected cases, coordinate the transfer of laboratory tests, and communicate with relevant ministries and government institutions, including the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Local Administration, Municipality of Amman, Aqaba Regional Authority, and Petra Development and Tourism Region Authority, on vector control methods and disease prevention, especially in the Ghori and Shifa Ghoriya areas, regions near borders, stagnant water bodies, and mosquito breeding areas.

He pointed out that the ministry has also worked to raise awareness and educate the local community through all available means about the disease and preventive measures via the ministry’s website and social media platforms.

He added that the ministry has also developed an action plan to prevent the disease, which includes combating vectors in the air and water bodies, in partnership with all relevant ministries and institutions. Coordination to combat infection involves monitoring the disease in migratory, wild, and dead birds in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Royal Scientific Society, with three teams conducting field visits to assess the situation.

//Petra// AJ
10/07/2024 13:29:32