Health authorities in the Caribbean are calling on all citizens to join the battle to reduce mosquito breeding sites in and around homes, as part of the Pan American Health Organisation’s (PAHO) campaign for Mosquito Awareness Week 2018.
This year’s campaign focused on increasing community participation in the elimination of breeding sites for
Aedes aegypti, the mosquito responsible for transmitting dengue, chikungunya, Zika and urban yellow fever.
The Aedes mosquitoes have adapted well to human settlements and tended to breed in water held in man made containers, such as tires, buckets, barrels, planters, and trash containers.
Households in areas where these mosquitoes circulated needed to ensure that any items that could accumulate water were either discarded or emptied, scrubbed and turned over at least once a week, tightly covered to prevent mosquitoes from getting inside, or thoroughly cleaned to destroy any mosquito eggs that may be attached to their surfaces.
Dr Marcos Espinal, director of PAHO’s Department of Communicable Diseases and Environmental Determinants of Health, said controlling mosquito breeding sites was essential, both for prevention and during an outbreak.
He said getting individuals, families and communities to help reduce mosquito breeding sites was a key component of PAHO’s integrated strategy to control mosquito-borne diseases, which was being implemented by member countries throughout the Americas.
The strategy also called for chemical and non-chemical control measures by health and environmental authorities, and for involving different sectors in an integrated and coordinated way.
“Ensuring robust vector control efforts across the Caribbean is especially important given the islands’ vulnerability to hurricanes and other natural hazards, which often increase mosquito populations and therefore the risk of mosquito-borne diseases.
“Mosquito Awareness Week in the Caribbean is not just about one-off actions, but about building awareness and commitment to sustained mosquito-control efforts throughout the year,” Espinal said.
Mosquito-borne diseases were a significant cause of illness and sometimes death for people, families and communities living in at-risk areas. Recent data showed that in 2017, countries in the Americas reported 483,208 cases of dengue (including 253 deaths) and 180,000 cases of chikungunya. From January 2015 through January 2018, there were 223,477 confirmed cases of Zika in the region.
Mosquito Awareness Week began in 2016 as a result of a decision taken at the 17th meeting of the heads of government of Caricom in 2014. This year, activities have already begun in St. Lucia and the Virgin Islands and would take place in other locations over the coming weeks.