Community participation essential in the control of the aedes aegypti mosquito
Community participation is vital to prevent and control the spread of diseases transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, chief among them the Zika virus, chikungunya, dengue and yellow fever. Community participation has been defined "as a process whereby individuals, families and communities are involved in the planning and conduct of local vector control activities so as to ensure that the programme meets the local needs and priorities of the people who live in the community".
It also fosters and promotes community self-reliance. As it relates to Aedes aegypti control, community participation can be defined as citizens in a particular geographical location taking individualistic as well as organised action to reduce the breeding of the mosquito in their environment.
Understanding the behaviour of the Aedes aegypti mosquito is essential to understanding why community participation is critical to its control.
The Aedes aegypti lives in proximity to human settlements, breeding primarily in artificial as well as natural receptacles which collect water. The mosquito's life cycle is closely associated with human activities.
The Aedes aegypti larvae can be found in containers such as drums, buckets, water vases, flower pots, air conditioner trays, old tins and cans, old shoes, old things thrown about, plants with axils such as bromeliad plants, old pet containers, tyres, tree holes, block holes - anything that is able to containerise water close to where human dwell will lend itself to the breeding of this mosquito.
It is important to note that Aedes aegypti does not breed in drains or gullies or ground pools of water or river margins.
The Aedes aegypti is right there in your backyard. Right there where people live, work, play and do business.
Humans are primarily responsible for the presence of the Aedes aegypti in their environment through:
- Poor sanitation practices
- Improper solid-waste disposal practices
- Unsafe water storage practices
- Poor pool management
As a result of this, it will take behavioural adjustment in the practices identified above on the part of every citizen to reduce the presence of the Aedes aegypti mosquito.
Owing to its behaviour of breeding in proximity to people and the behavioural adjustment that are required, one of the main strategies of dealing with this mosquito is to get everyone involved in the identification, destruction or treatment of the containers within their environment that breed the Aedes aegypti mosquito.
Only with each individual householder, business place, school, community taking action to rid their environment (source reduction) of the breeding sites will there be a significant reduction in the Aedes aegypti population. This will reduce transmission of diseases. Individuals and community taking action will see up to 85-90 per cent reduction in the Aedes aegypti population.
Fogging (spraying) will only kill 30 per cent of the adult mosquito, as the mosquitoes are most times indoors. Fogging will NOT kill the larval stages. When the breeding sites are left in the environment unchecked, they will continue to produce more adult mosquitoes.
The Government will not be able to employ enough persons to search every backyard to identify and destroy breeding sites on a consistent basis to prevent this mosquito from breeding.
Cleaning of drains and gullies WILL NOT help with the control of this type of mosquito, as the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes do not breed in these sources. The Aedes aegypti breeds in relatively clean and clear settled water.
Community participation is the main sustainable and cost effective strategy in dealing with the Aedes aegypti mosquito. It is the strategy that will have the greatest impact to reduce the risk of transmission of the Zika virus.
Each householder, school, business place is encouraged to protect themselves against the Aedes aegypti mosquito by once per week looking for and destroying breeding sites of the Aedes aegypti mosquito.
WHAT IS THE ACTION?
- Once per week, search for and destroy mosquito-breeding sites.
- For those containers that cannot be removed or destroyed, properly cover them to prevent access to mosquitoes.
- Only with citizens taking action will we be able to stem the impact of Zika virus.
WHAT ARE THE HABITS OF THE AEDES AEGYPTI MOSQUITO?
- In Jamaica, the Aedes aegypti mosquito is the only mosquito that can spread the Zika virus.
- This Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is commonly found in Jamaica, also transmits dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever. There are other types of Aedes mosquitoes which can spread these viruses, but they are not found in Jamaica.
- The Aedes aegypti mosquito bites at any time during the day or night. It is found in and around homes, schools, workplaces and other places where people gather.
- One infected Aedes aegypti mosquito is able to infect several persons.
- The mosquito can breed in as little as one drop of water
- The Aedes aegypti mosquitoes produce on average 100 to 200 eggs per batch. Laid eggs can survive for very long periods in a dry state, often for more than a year.
- The lifespan of the adult mosquito is two weeks to a month.