Bissy cannot treat Zik V - De La Haye
As a response to a 'mystery rash', residents of some rural communities have stepped up their reliance on drinking bissy herbal tea to relieve symptoms.
Checks by THE STAR revealed that the supposedly mysterious rashes affecting people from Clarendon, St Elizabeth and Westmoreland is a symptom of ZIKV.
Bissy (cola nut) is the fruit of the cola tree, which is native to the tropical rainforests of Africa. The nut or powder version of the nut is usually kept in many Jamaican homes where it is used as an antidote against poison, usually food poisoning, and allergies.
Although the Zika virus has been present in the island since last year and the symptoms associated with it were widely publicised, residents of these central Jamaica communities say they were unaware of the cause of the rashes.
"Three persons in my family ketch the rash, and a when the baby go doctor we realise that is ZIKV," said a Westmoreland resident.
Another from Clarendon also said persons in her community have been consuming bissy as the solution for the rashes.
"All who nuh have it have been going in May Pen to get it 'cause we a drink it hard down here," said Claudia Singh.
But Chief Medical Officer (CMO) in the Ministry of Health, Dr Winston De La Haye, is discouraging the use of the tea as a remedy for ZIKV.
"It is definitely not a treatment we recommend. I suggest that persons go to the doctor to seek the appropriate methods to treat themselves," said De La Haye.
The CMO also told THE STAR that there are further plans to improve on the public education drive by the Ministry of Health.
"We are on to phase two. We are now having town hall meetings along with 1,000 community workers trained to inform persons about the disease," he explained.
De La Haye said that they will also be targeting grade-five students in the form of a competition to spread awareness among students.