The Ministry of Health is urging continued public vigilance in dealing with mosquito breeding sites.
Only last year, a new Aedes mosquito – the Aedes albopictus – was confirmed on the island. It has similar competency as the Aedes aegypti and, as such, is able to transmit the dengue, chikungunya and Zika viruses. It is found breeding in the same habitat as the aegypti: in water-holding containers, such as drums and tyres.
The control strategies that are used for the Aedes egypti are the same for the Aedes albopictus. As such, Jamaicans must continue their vigilance, in dealing with the breeding sites that were identified for the Aedes aegypti in and around their homes.
The key is for persons to continue or begin the action of once each week, searching and destroying the breeding sites (water-holding containers) for the mosquitoes.
The Ministry – under the Mosquito Control and Research Unit, which confirmed the presence of the Aedes albopictus in Jamaica in October 2017 – will continue its own surveillance to determine the spread of this new species.
The Ministry will also shortly launch its annual Enhanced Vector Control Programme for the months of June-October, in an effort to reduce the vector population of arboviruses.
This will see the employment of 1,000 temporary workers, who will be engaged at the community level to disseminate information about the vector populations, as well as to look for and destroy/treat those breeding sites.
MORE ABOUT THE AEDES ALBOPICTUS
The Asian tiger mosquito is an exotic species that gets its tiger name from the single white stripe down the centre of its head and back. It is native to Asia and was formally recorded in the New World in Harris County, Texas, USA in 1985. It was first detected in Caribbean in the Dominica Republic in 1993.
Since then, it has been confirmed in Barbados, Trinidad, the Caymans, and Cuba, along with the Central and South American States of El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Colombia, and Bolivia since the late 1990s. Ae. albopictus is ranked as one of the world’s 100-most invasive species.
In addition to tyres, Ae. albopictus breeds in natural and artificial containers which are similar breeding sites to Aedes aegypti. Studies have shown that Ae albopictus prefers cooler temperatures and is more frequently found in rural areas compared to Ae. aegypti.