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JIS News

The mosquito can be annoying and pesky, but this insect may also present health dangers if breeding is not controlled or prevented around the home.In the effort to protect and educate householders, the Ministry of Health, through its vector control programme, has carried out fogging exercises and continued its education campaign throughout communities across Jamaica.
In an interview with JIS News, Sherine Huntley, Medical Entomologist in the Ministry explained that with the hurricane season on and Jamaica having already experienced two hurricanes, the Ministry has conducted its assessment and has been distributing additional mosquito control material to the different parishes, particularly those that were most affected, such as St. Thomas, Clarendon, and St. Mary. The parish teams have also been responding to complaints and have been conducting fogging, and oiling in communities where needed.
She said that while there was no on-going media campaign, health educators within the parishes (each parish is assigned a health educator and a team), have been conducting educational sessions, especially in communities that were most affected. “We have been distributing educational material within those communities. So, education is being conducted at the local level and not necessarily at the central level, through a media campaign,” she added.
Miss Huntley told JIS News that in Jamaica there were two mosquito populations – nuisance and disease carrying. “After a flood or heavy rain, we expect an increase in both these populations, because water is collected in drains, and other places. As it relates to nuisance mosquitoes, persons experience some amount of discomfort because of the increase in the mosquito population,” the Medical Entomologist said.
The health threat comes in the form of the disease carrying Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is the vector for dengue, Miss Huntley said. “After hurricanes, persons have to store water in containers, and we also find an increase in these mosquitoes. A danger that we face anytime after rains or flood is the increase in the Aedes aegypti population and then the possible occurrence of the transmission of dengue,” she pointed out.
This, she said was a major concern for the Ministry and its message is geared at getting persons to control this mosquito, in particular. “The control methods are very easy. Throw away what you don’t want, overturn things that you are not going to use. For those containers that you have to throw water in, cover them or put ‘ticki-ticki’ fish in water that isn’t going to be used to cook. Or put a little cooking oil on top and that will prevent mosquitoes from breeding,”Miss Huntley said.
Also called the ‘Yellow Fever Mosquito’, Aedes aegypti is an early morning or late afternoon feeder, but will also bite at nights. Habitats are often found close to human areas and the mosquitoes will bite indoors or in sheltered areas near the home. Human blood is preferred over other animals and the eggs of the female mosquito can survive for very long periods in a dry state, often for more than a year.
Since the virus can be passed from adult to egg, then the virus is guaranteed survival and remains in the salivary glands of the mosquito. According to the experts, there are no intermediate animal vectors for the virus; it seems the system is contained in man/mosquito/man relationships.
The Aedes aegypti mosquito is the primary carrier for viruses that cause Dengue Fever and Yellow Fever. It breeds in artificial containers (flower pots, gutters, tyres). The eggs will hatch when flooded by deoxygenated water.
“The vector control teams within the parishes are going around now, conducting assessments and identifying communities that are having the highest breeding of Aedes Aegypti and using a chemical called temephos to treat drums,” Miss Huntley informed, adding that the chemical was safe.
“We have been going out and treating containers, but we don’t want people to rely on us coming out to treat containers, so we encourage persons to do what they can. We also encourage persons to use repellants and aerosols,” she said.