Jamaica Health Tips Blog
With the recent chaos on the media about the deadly
Ebola virus, many Jamaicans seemingly are concerned with the lack of
information and surveillance being conducted by the public health officials in
our island. For this reason the Jamaica Health Tips Online team has seen the
need to provide information to our fellow Jamaicans and the world that will
help you better understand this disease.
outlined on the CDC website is a rare and deadly disease, it is known to affect
humans and non-human primates for example; Monkey, Gorillas and Chimpanzees.
There are presently five identified strains of the Ebola virus; Zaire, Sudan, Cote d’lvoire, Bundibugyo
and the Reston (in non-human primates
but not in humans).
The first case of Ebola occurs in Southern Sudan in
1976 in a cotton factory. As reported by Dr Don Francis in a presentation at
the University of Berkeley, California, he believes that the cotton was contaminated
by urine of fruit bats in the area. As of August 8, 2014 it has been reported by
several sources that there are over 3000 confirm cases with over 1000 deaths in
the West Africa area.
- Human to human varies from; direct
contact through broken skin for example saliva,
urine, vomit, blood and semen of an infected person) or through unprotected mucous
membranes such as; eyes nose or mouth. Objects (like needles or syringe) used
by infected person.
- Butchering of animals infected with the Ebola
The primary host is believed to be the fruit bats
which infect other animals and by extension humans through butchering and the
consumption of animals for food (bush meat).
at high risk
- Health care providers e.g. nurses and
- Family and friends who are caring for
- Funeral home workers.
Fever, headache, chest pain, diarrhoea, vomiting,
dry painful throat, rash, bleeding from the ear,eyes, nose and mouth, malanea (black tarry faeces)
and desquamation (skin peeling). The symptoms may appear within 2-21 days after
exposure, but on average 8-10 days.
Practice careful hygiene, avoid funeral or burial
rituals that require handling of infected bodies, avoid contacts with bats, and
infected animals and humans, education of the public and proper training of
health care providers, isolation of infected persons, constant re-hydration of patient(s)
maintenance of oxygen and blood pressure status in patient(s) and an active
quarantine and surveillance system.
There is no known vaccine or medicine to treat the
Ebola Haemorrhagic Fever. However, several patients have recovered from their
illness by just treating any opportunistic illness and maintaining patient(s) electrolytes,
oxygen and blood pressure level.
Do you think Jamaican public health officials are prepared for the
Most Jamaicans don’t know that a person doesn't actually "get" AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). People sometimes get infected with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), and later they might develop AIDS. You can get infected with HIV from anyone who's infected, even if they don't look very sick and even if they haven't been tested and confirmed HIV-positive The semen, blood, vaginal fluid, and breast milk of people infected with HIV has enough of the virus in it to infect others. Most times the HIV virus is transmitted by:
· Having sexual intercourse with someone who is infected;
· Being born infected because the mother is infected, or drinking the breast milk of a woman who is infected.
· Sharing a needle with someone who's infected;
Things Jamaican’s should keep in mind
Your risk of getting HIV or passing it to someone else depends on many factors. Do you know what they are? Here are a few health tips.
1. Use a condom
2. Abstaining from sex
3. Talking about HIV with your partner
4. Getting tested
It’s simple as ABC (A: Abstain B: Be faithful C: Use A Condom
Chikungunya is a viral disease that causes fever and
severe joint pains. It is spread to human by bite of an infected mosquito. The aedes aegypti mosquitoes spread or pass
on this virus. This type of mosquito also spreads the dengue virus.
The most common symptoms are fever and severe joint
pains, often in the hands, wrist and ankles. Prolong effects includes Arthritis
and disabling joints pains. In some cases, joints pains can last for several
months and even years. Other symptoms include headache, backache, muscles pain,
nausea, fatigue and rash.
There are no medicines to specifically treat
chikungunya or vaccine; however pain killers can be taken to reduce the
symptoms. It is paramount to note that
only paracetamol pain killersshould
be taken. Other pain killers such as Aspirin,
Ibuprofen and other anti-flammmatory drugs are not recommended as they may
increase risk of bleeding.
Mosquitoes which spread Chikunyunga bites during the
light coloured clothing and cover your body as much as possible.
mosquito repellents containing DEET on exposed skin.
mosquito coils and electric vaporization maths both in the day and night.
(mesh) your windows and doors.
The aedes mosquito
breeds and lives in standing water in and around the home hence do your part to
prevent them from breeding.
all open containers such as your drums, tanks, barrels, buckets.
rid of all old tyres, tins bottles, plastic containers, coconut shells and
anything in which rain water settles.
trash, punch holes in tins before placing them in garbage.
house plants in damp soil and avoid over watering plants.
and wash pets water containers as twice weekly.
over grown vegetation on your premises as frequently as possible.
see your doctor immediately if you think you or a family member might have
Source: MOH brochure
Do you have measures in place to protect yourself and your family from Chikungunya?
As defined in the Collins English Dictionary, 1819 a fruit
juice is a beverage made from liquid squeezed from a fruit or fruits. With that
said, can we legally call juice from concentrate 100% fruit juice? This seems
to be the new way of advertising fruit juices blended with other ingredients,
such as high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners, additives and coloring.
Many may argue that fruit juice made from concentrate is juice adding back the
water that was removed in the evaporation process. Yes, but evaporation which
is heating the juice to high temperature will destroy certain nutrients and
enzymes in the natural fruit. In addition, juice from concentrate would also
have most of its water removed through filtration and extraction. Extraction
involves adding some chemicals to get a more condensed product.
the Dictionary of Food Science and Technology, Juice from concentrate is also
pasteurized as part of the process to extend its shelf life. As a general rule,
the more processing a food undergoes, the more potential there is for nutrient
loss. On the contrary, according to the Complete Book of Food count, the differences
are not great. One cup of 100% orange juice from concentrate, for example
contains 100 milligram and 40 micro-gram of beta-carotene, compare to 125
milligram of vitamin c and 80 micro-gram of beta-carotene in fresh squeezed
The writer will not dismiss the fact that 100% juice from
concentrate with no sugar added is healthier than juice made from concentrate
with sugar added, however it’s in my opinion that juice from concentrate should
not be advertise as 100% natural fruit juice. As consumers we need to take charge in the market place,
read labels since it is the only thing that will provide us with information
needed to guide us in making a wise and informed choice. Please share your views and knowledge on this
Do you drink a lot of juices that are made from concentrate?
Fish, when freshly caught, is relatively
wholesome. The quality of the fish
starts to deteriorate as soon as it is taken from the water. The principal cause of fish condemnation is
decay. Factors influencing the rapid
spoilage of fish are:
- Microbial – several species of
microbes are always present in the surface slime and intestinal tract of
the healthy fish. As long as the
fish remains alive, these are held in check and the flesh of the healthy
fish remains sterile. However, as
soon as the fish dies, these reproduce rapidly and attack all the
constituents of the tissues. Since these
organisms live on the cold-blooded vertebrate at low ocean temperatures,
they are able to resist ordinary refrigeration temperatures. If microbial decomposition must be
retarded, fish, upon being caught, should be immediately stored at
temperatures below 0ºC.
- Physiological – due to the fight
and consequent exertion when caught, glycogen in the muscles is depleted
or nearly so. There is therefore
little glycogen to convert into lactic acid in slowing bacterial growth in
muscles is limited.
- Chemical – besides bacteria,
enzymes act upon certain constituents of the fish, breaking it down into
simpler substances. This is called
self-digestion or autolysis. The
growth and activities of certain bacteria on the surface of the fish
produces undesirable chemical substances called trimethylamine which is
responsible for the fishy odor of spoilt fish. This chemical then diffuses into the
flesh of the fish causing spoilage.
Characteristics of Good Wet Fish
Characteristics of Stale Wet Fish
- Clear, bright, slightly protruding eyes with black pupils.
- Gills are bright red in color, odorless and usually closed.
- Moderate amount of natural slime covering fish, skin shiny and
color unfaded, scales are strongly adherent, creamy white or transparent
- Flesh is firm to the touch, solid, opaque, elastic and strongly
attached to backbone.
- Abdomen clean and free from offensive odor. Belly walls are firm with no
- Blood along the backbone in the visceral cavity is bright red.
- Pleasant odor (briny)
- Body stiff and tail rigid.
- The carcass will sink in water.
- Dull, sunken grey eyes which will disappear in extremely rotten
- Gills are of very pale pink or dark brown color, slimy and have
- Natural slime is yellowish and has a bad odor, dull appearance,
many missing scales as they are easily detached from the skin.
- Flesh is soft and limp, transparent and pits easily on pressure
and can be easily loosened from backbone.
- Abdomen discolored with offensive odor, belly wall soft and
- Blood along backbone is dark to black in color, with foul odor.
- Strong rank odor, progressing into a putrid, rotten fish odor.
- Body limp and pliable.
- The carcass will float in water.
of Fresh Fish
1. Minimum handling – the less handling
fish receives, the longer it will remain wholesome and the less likelihood of it
causing fish poisoning.
2. Fresh fish should be buried in ice
that is relatively finely ground or shaven.
3. It is poor practice to allow fish
fillet, sliced fish or fish with flesh exposed to come in direct contact with
water or ice as this will spoil the flavour and appearance and result in a
soggy unpalatable product.
4. Refrigeration is necessary at all
times to keep down bacterial action and autolysis.
Smoked Fish (Herring)
1. Flesh should be firm, dry and free
2. Flesh should have fresh, clean,
1. Flesh is sweaty, soft and slimy.
2. Flesh is moldy and has bad odor.
1. Flesh should be firm, clear in colour, fairly dry on
surface, neatly trimmed.
2. Always stored in dry cool place.
3. Free of insect pests and dirt. Bad Fish
- Flesh is discolored, (pink fungus growth).
- Wet and moist saltfish not properly stored.
- May be infested with Lasioderma or other pests.
1. Fish should be covered with clean liquor.
2.Odor should be pleasant, pickle odor.
3. Fish should be firm and free from bloodstained and broken
- Fish only partially covered or covered with muddy liquor.
- Foul or rancid odor
- Fish is bloodstained, discolored and broken into pieces.
The outside should be clean and
free from dirt, with shells tightly closed.
When a handful is rubbed
together, they will sound like pebbles.
They will sink in water and has
a pleasant odor.
If the pH of the liquor is
tested, it will be between 6 and 7.
The liquor appears milky
especially during the spawning season (spring).
Shell not closed.
When shaken, does not have a
pebble like sound.
Unpleasant odor, excessive dirt
PH of the liquor more acidic
and has an opaque appearance.
has a black or dark ring in the
inside of the shell
Floats in water.
Oysters removed from shell should be stored
in sterile containers and if being kept for over 4 days, should be stored at
30ºF or below.
Source: Marcia Reid
(lecturer at University of Technology, Jamaica. Lecture notes.)
Are you buying safe fish? leave a comment below.
Well it’s just 3 days away before Christmas and Jamaicans are preparing for wonderful large cooked meals. Most Jamaicans do not realize that the food they consume during Christmas is usually high in fat and calories, but taking a closer look has revealed that there can be some hidden health benefits too.
Very few Jamaicans eat turkey as their main dish during Christmas, but some studies show that Turkey contains high levels of protein but without the large quantities of saturated fat found in some red meat, it also has lower cholesterol levels than pork, chicken or beef.
It has been said that some Jamaican vegetables like cabbage, may help reduce the risk of some cancers, as they contain high levels of antioxidants. And Christmas in Jamaica is not complete without dark chocolate, which is a good source of magnesium and contains a variety of bio-active compounds believed to lead to good cardiovascular health and prevent joint problems.
However chocolate is a high-calorie food and should be eaten in small moderation. leave a comment below.
What healthy foods are you planning to eat this Christmas?
leave a comment below.
are mosquitoes attracted to some people than other?
Dengue fever is an infection caused by a virus
called Dengue virus. There are four
different type of this virus, Dengue type 1, 2, 3 and 4. A person can only be infected with each type
once in their life. The virus is spread when a female Aedes mosquito bites an infected person and then bites other
The female mosquito bites only to obtain blood from
its source to provide iron and other nutrients needed for the development and
maturation of its eggs. The belief is true;
mosquitoes do prefer to snack on some people than others.
There are three distinct reasons,
1· Carbon dioxide - producing more carbon
dioxide and lactic acid will cause a mosquito to be more attracted to you. So the reason we always hear a mosquito
buzzing at our ear is because as we breathe out the carbon dioxide from our
nostril, and they follow that track at the angel of the ear. With that said, a
pregnant woman is more attracted to a mosquito since she will emit more CO2.
2· Body temperature – producing greater
body heat will attract mosquitoes, especially if you have a chemical blood type
marker. So persons with type O blood
type are 24% more attractive to a mosquito.
3· Sweating – sweating excessively means
that your body temperature is very high and this will attract a mosquito to
you. Children are always victims since they are always busy playing and running
about. Additional persons who sweat easily and very physical and active
When infected with a dengue virus you may develop
Dengue Fever or Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever (severe
form of Dengue which often causes death)
Here are some signs and symptoms,
onset of high fever and severe headache.
behind the eye, muscle, bone or joint pain.
rash, vomiting or feeling to vomit.
N: B for Dengue
Haemorragic Fever, in severe cases patients may go into a shock called Dengue
Shock Syndrome. In additional they may experience fainting, difficulty
breathing, bleeding from nose, mouth or gum, stomach pain and skin bruising.
To prevent mosquitoes from breeding is to prevent
them from having access to water.
· Keep all water holding or storage
· Brush your premises regularly, since
mosquitoes can breed in water on the grass leaves.
· Clean all drains and trenches to allow
water to flow easily.
· Pour cooking oil and other oil in areas
where water settles.
· Package, store and dispose of water
properly. E.g. punch holes in tins.
In case you feel you have dengue visit your doctor
immediately, rest and drink a lot of fluids. Use Paracetamol pain killers only; do not use pain killers such as Aspirin or medications that have Aspirin in them, since they may
increase your risk of bleeding.
Do you have measures in place to protect yourself and your family from Dengue Fever?
Eggs are one of the most
economical and nutritious food known to man. It is important to however, not to
mismanage eggs during the time of production through to consumption. This is because mismanagement may compromise
the safety and the quality of the egg and consequently facilitates the growth
of microorganisms which can have deleterious effect on the health of the
Eggs have been classified
by many including the Food and Drug administration as being a potentially
hazardous food. This is because it has being implicated in numerous foodborne
disease outbreaks such as Salmonellosis. (FDA, 2001) According to the Ministry of Agriculture and
Fisheries, (2011), it is estimated that the average yearly production
of eggs in Jamaica is at 120,977,659. Consequently there are approximately
16,200 unmonitored small egg farms contributing to the yearly production of
eggs in the island, (Williams, 2004). This is of major public health concern because
some eggs which you consume could be contaminated with deadly microorganisms
that may result in loss of life.
Most commercially produced eggs reach
supermarkets within a few days of leaving the egg farm. If the market and the
buyer handle them properly, they will still be fresh when they reach the
table. As an egg ages, the egg white
becomes thinner and the yolk becomes flatter.
also called meat spots, occasionally found on an egg yolk. Contrary to popular
opinion, these tiny spots do not indicate a fertilized egg. Rather, they are
caused by the rupture of a blood vessel on the yolk surface during formation of
the egg or by a similar accident in the wall of the oviduct. Less than 1% of
all eggs produced have blood spots. As an egg ages, the yolk takes up water
from the albumen to dilute the blood spot so, in actuality, a blood spot
indicates that the egg is fresh. Both chemically and nutritionally, these eggs
are fit to eat. The spot can be removed with the tip of a knife, if you wish.
Table 1 : Showing the quality of egg from very fresh (left) to stale (right).
How are eggs handled safely?
Proper refrigeration, cooking, and handling should prevent most egg-safety
problems. Persons can enjoy eggs and dishes containing eggs if these safe
handling guidelines are followed:
utensils, equipment, and work areas with hot, soapy water before and after
contact with eggs
keep eggs out of the refrigerator more than 2 hours.
eggs and other ingredients, combined according to recipe directions, should be
cooked immediately or refrigerated and cooked within 24 hours.
cook eggs until both the white and yolk are firm.
and other dishes containing eggs should be cooked to a safe minimum internal
temperature of 160 °F. use a food thermometer to be sure.
cooked eggs and dishes containing eggs immediately after cooking, or place in
shallow containers for quick cooling and refrigerate at once for later use. Use
within 3 to 4 days.
Source : Marcia Reid (lecturer) @ University of Technology, Jamaica.
Genetically Modified Foods
These are foods, in which the genetic material has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally. From prehistoric time plants and animals have been involved in selective breeding. Scientists first discovered that DNA can transfer between organisms in 1946. The first genetically modified plant was produced in 1983, using an antibiotic-resistant tobacco plant.
In 1994, the transgenic Flavr Savr tomato was approved by the FDA for marketing in the US - the modification allowed the tomato to delay ripening after picking.
Advantages Genetically Modified Foods
• Genetically modified food technology can develop crops with higher yield, with less fertilizer, less pesticides, and more nutrients.
• Decrease of maturation time of the plants, so they can be harvested sooner, stay riper longer and more often during the year.
• Foods are more resistant and stay ripe for a longer period of time.
• Reduction in food-borne illnesses e.g. Foods causing allergic reactions.
• Developments of new kinds of crops that can be grown at extreme climates.
• As more crops can be grown and at more places, this decreases global warming through the increase of oxygen in the environment and the decrease of carbon dioxide.
• Enhancement of the size of food.
• Less labor requirements.
• Less factory additives needed.
• Scientific development of agriculture, health and related sciences due to the better understanding of the products. E.g. the development of new medicines.
Disadvantages Genetically Modified Foods
• Harm to other organisms. E.g. genes and their effect included in a crop may turn out to be poisonous to insects (monarch butterfly poisoned by Genetically Modified Foods corns).
• Scientists can choose which genes to manipulate, but they don't yet know where in the DNA to precisely insert these genes and they have no way of controlling gene expression.
Genes don't work in isolation, changing a few could change the whole picture, with unpredictable results.
• Genetically modified crops cross-pollinate with nearby non-genetically modified foods plants and could create ecological problems.
• Genetically Modified Foods technology companies patent their crops and also engineer crops so that harvested grain germs are incapable of developing.
• Since the production of engineered food involves infusing animal genes in the crops and tampering with nature, it might not be good for consumption in the long run.
• Genetically engineered food would increase the dependency of developing countries, on industrialized nations. This would result in a dominance of the world food production by a few countries. New advances may be skewed to the interests of rich countries.
• The biggest disadvantage of genetically modified food is that they have harmful effects. on the human body. The consumption of these genetically engineered foods can lead to development of diseases that are immune to antibiotics.
• Possible creation of new kinds of weapons; genetic food and beverage weapons.
• Herbicide-resistant and pesticide-resistant crops could give rise to super-weeds and super-pests that would need newer, stronger chemicals to destroy them.
The advantages and disadvantages of genetically modified foods are numerous and is strongly dependent on the consumers’ preference and the developers’ motive. All genetically modified foods should be labelled by law, however according to many articles reviewed most popular brand fail to label their products genetically modified.
Do you support companies that produce Genetically Modified Food?
leave a comment below and share your views
Food is a vital part of
maintaining proper health and a nutritious diet. If the foods we eat are not handled and
prepared in a hygienic manner the consequences can be detrimental to our
health. When purchasing our foods it is of critical importance that we pay
special attention to the activities going on around us.
Observe the cleanliness
of the premises you are buying your food from. It is not an easy task to keep a
food handling establishment clean, if the operator is not a tidy person. Hence
having a well-kept and sanitary establishment is the first step in producing a
safe food. In taking note of the cleanliness of the premises there are certain
things that will be more evident in the food display area of an unhygienic food
Cobwebs hanging from the ceiling and in
Excessive dust and dirt on shelves and
Over filled garbage receptacle(s).
Brooms, mops and other cleaning items in
the food display area.
Live or dead insects
Rodents (rats) droppings
Chemicals and other toxic items in the
In the process of preparing food the potential of
contamination is very high. This risk increases exponentially when the food
handler has no regards for personal and food hygienic practices. Consequently
this may result in the consumer eating unsafe food and getting sick. For this
purpose it is imperative that the consumer pays attention to the person
handling and preparing their food. According to the Center of Disease control
and prevention (CDC) they estimate that 97% of food borne illness can be linked
to improper handling of food in the homes and restaurants. As a result a food
Talks excessively over the food
Do not practices frequent hand washing
Do not wear proper protective clothing
Has long or dirty nails
Boils and rash on the uncovered areas of
Has on jewelry while preparing food
Will likely contaminate your food and hence as
consumers you need to be more skeptic about buying food from these sources.
Finally, it’s critical that you purchase foods from
certified establishments. This means an establishment that has been certified
by the Ministry of Health to sell food to the public. Such premise will have a
health certificate posted in a conspicuous area of the food premises. The significance for this is that these
premises are monitored by a public Health Inspector periodically and have
satisfied the minimum requirements under the Public Health Law to sell
food. At some point in our daily activities
we take on the role of a consumer therefore, it’s essential that we are
cognitive of these facts that will assist us in purchasing safer and wholesome
foods for ourselves and family members.