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Keep Mosquito Numbers Down

The mosquito responsible for dengue, Aedes aegypti. Internet photo.

Mosquito Research and Control Unit (MRCU) staff members urge residents to take proper control measures around their homes to reduce breeding of the Aedes aegypti mosquito which has the potential to transmit dengue fever.

MRCU Research Manager Fraser Allen said greater vigilance on the part of residents would complement the unit's routine vector control exercises aimed at eliminating these potentially dangerous mosquitoes.

The MRCU Survey Officers continually perform house-to-house inspections throughout the island paying particular attention to highly populated areas such as George Town and West Bay.

Containers are treated with larvicides to kill the mosquito larvae or are overturned to prevent collection of rain water which would initiate breeding. Surfaces where the adult mosquito might rest are also treated with adulticide sprays by the survey crews.

Mr. Allen explained that despite those efforts, public action is still necessary to keep the mosquito population in check, save resources and prevent the spread of mosquito-borne diseases.

"Aedes aegypti mosquito larvae thrive in home settings, particularly in containers such as flower pots, vases and water troughs which may hold fresh rain water for extended periods of time " Mr. Allen said.

Furthermore, he added, improperly discarded garbage such as old tyres and toilet bowls often collect rain water, also facilitating the breeding of the Aedes aegypti larvae.

"The fact that these mosquitoes breed mostly in domestic environments and as a result of human activity, gives residents a major role to play in eliminating the insect.

"By taking simple actions such as emptying water vessels regularly and punching holes in old household items prior to disposal, residents can prevent breeding and reduce the chance of a dengue fever outbreak in the Cayman Islands," Mr. Allen said.

By simply turning over buckets and placing a screen cover over drums used in water collection residents would assist us with at least 60% of our control of this mosquito throughout the islands.

While Cayman has not had a major incidence of this mosquito-borne disease, Mr. Allen pointed to outbreaks in a number of regional countries last year including Jamaica and Cuba.

"Although Cayman remains one of the few Caribbean countries in which local transmission of dengue fever does not occur, widespread regional travel means that from time to time, we do see a number of dengue cases in returning residents or visitors.

"Infected persons travelling to Cayman present a real possibility of local transmission," Mr. Allen said, adding that this reinforces the need for precautionary measures.

Keeping Your Home Aedes aegypti Free

Residents can reduce the risk of mosquito breeding by piercing old containers before disposal; emptying exposed water vessels regularly, and checking for larvae in the following:

  • Discarded tyres

  • Storm drains

  • Clogged rain gutters

  • Plant pots

  • Holes in trees

  • Animal watering troughs

  • Tarps

  • Bird baths

  • Pools

  • Ponds

  • Rain barrels

  • Boats

  • Children's toys

Anything that can hold water for more than a few days is a potential breeding source and should be drained and cleaned regularly.

For further information contact: Lennon Christian