Researchers keep up fight against dengue fever

| 03/07/2012

Dengue mosquito survey.jpg(CNS): Experts from the Mosquito Control and Research Unit are warning that levels of the pests are higher than usual this year and asking people to help keep the numbers down. Dr Angela Harris, Senior Research Officer MCRU explained that the early May rains delayed the seeding of the mosquito’s grounds but the unit is now on top of the aerial larviciding campaign across all three islands. “The early rains this year brought out high numbers of mosquitoes for a while – it’s not a record year, but the mosquito numbers are higher than average," she said. The scientists are also remaining vigilant regarding the Aedes aegypti mosquito to ensure the pest does not start to carry dengue fever as it does elsewhere in the region.

“We do everything we can to keep the Cayman Islands free from Dengue Fever. Last year there were two cases of Dengue — one from a traveller returning from a trip to the Bahamas,” said Harris in a government release. "It is a testament to the hard work and organisation of our department over the years that we are the only country among our Caribbean neighbours that does not have endemic Dengue. However this doesn’t mean it’s not possible that we will get it, and we must remain vigilant. This is where the MRCU asks the public for help.”

The Dengue mosquito (Aedes aegypti) is a domestic mosquito that loves to be around people. It breeds close to homes in any standing water it can find — from tarps, to disused vehicles and boats. It's favourite piece of junk are tyres, but a discarded can, bottle or coconut shell that holds water next time it rains is just as good.

“Whilst we concentrate specifically on the swamp and Dengue mosquitoes (Aedes taeniorhynchus and Aedes aegypti), we also want to remind the public of the importance of preventing any kind of mosquito breeding. It is therefore important to check out septic tanks and sewage systems for any tiny holes that mosquitoes might get into. Any standing water left long enough can be a breeding ground," Dr Harris said.

It is a misconception that this mosquito is only found in ‘dirty’ yards. Whilst it loves junk, it will breed in clean rain water. So drums, bird baths, ornamentals such as conch shells and even animal bowls and troughs can also provide a home for breeding Dengue mosquitoes. Stored water should be fitted with screens and plant pots and animal bowls emptied out at least every seven days, officials advised this week in the release from the ministry.

For more information on mosquito control the public is invited to go to www.mrcu.ky or www.facebook.com/mrcu.cayman or on the Brac www.facebook.com/mrcucyb where they can find information on the Unit, spraying schedules and control methods employed or send an email to info@mrcu.ky

MRCU’s fivestrategies for mosquito control:
1. TIP. Reduce standing water to eliminate possible mosquito breeding sites, including those in children's sandboxes, wagons or plastic toys; underneath and around downspouts, in plant saucers and dog bowls. Other hot spots include tarps, gutters, and flat roofs. 
2. TOSS. Dispose of trash correctly; bottles, cans and fast food containers provide an excellent breeding ground if thrown in the bush, put them in the trash can or recycle if possible
3. TURN. Turn over larger yard items that could hold water like children's portable sandboxes, plastic toys or wheelbarrows.
4. REMOVE TARPS. If tarps stretched over firewood piles, boats or sports equipment and grills aren't taut, they're holding water.
5. TREAT. Using a regular fly spray around the house which will kill adult mosquitoes, for an evening spent outside use repellent containing ingredients such as DEET and picaridin and cover up at peak biting times (dawn and dusk).                    

Category: Science and Nature

Comments (3)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I am supposed to empty any outside container of standing water to reduce the breeding habitat for the Mosquitos but yet the planning department allow developers to dig open drainage ditches around residential developments. Where is the logic? Maybe someone should educate the planning department about the dangers of dengue fever and the breeding habitats of the Mosquitos that carry it.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Good news, however flies can also carry disease! Will someone take the responsibility and take action against the flies in Cayman Brac!

    • Sir Henry Morgan says:

      Grand Cayman is just as bad. Mainly because people don't cover their trash while it is waiting for collection. Flies get into it, maggots are born and millions more flies are released every day. Simply covering your trash will significantly reduce the fly problem!

      The Department of Environment should be out monitoring this and warning people who don't sort their tash out and cover it properly. If people don't heed warning hit them with hefty fine! This could be a good source of revenue for our premier to inject into his slush fund or extend his world tour.