Jamaica to adopt cholera prevention measures

Health officials in Jamaica recently announced that they are taking precautions to prevent the spread of cholera to the island.

Health Minister Dr. Fenton Ferguson said the proximity of Cuba and Haiti make cholera surveillance and prevention a top priority. Ferguson said that technical teams are meeting to discuss the issue and develop a national strategy, according to RJRNewsOnline.com.

According to Ferguson, Jamaica has been free from cholera for decades and the government is in full support of efforts to ensure the waterborne illness does not return.

In 2006, more than 150 people were infected with malaria during the country's first outbreak of the illness in 50 years. Ferguson said the malaria outbreak highlights the importance of vigilance against re-emerging disease threats, according to Go-Jamaica.com.

United Nations peacekeepers inadvertently reintroduced the disease to Haiti after their deployment following the devastating 2010 earthquake. Since then, it has claimed thousands of lives.

There is speculation that the recent appearance of cholera in Cuba may be related to the Haitian outbreak. Hundreds of Cuban medical professionals have traveled to Haiti since the start the epidemic in 2010, according to the BBC.

The Cuban government is scrambling to halt the spread of the disease, but it remains unclear how effective it has been.