Tue | Aug 22, 2017

Tyre pileup hindering Zika fight

Published:Friday | September 9, 2016 | 9:00 AM
Old tyres pile-up by the side of the road on Spanish Town Road in St Andrew could be a breeding site for mosquitoes.
Sherine Huntley-Jones, medical entomologist.
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The national drive to reduce the risk of Zika infestation is being derailed by the abundance of used tyres in the Corporate Area that serve as ideal breeding sites for the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which spreads the disease.

Used tyres, which are the second major breeding sites for the mosquitoes in Jamaica, are still openly displayed along major thoroughfares such as Spanish Town Road, where a number of tyre-shop operators pay scant regard to proper disposal practices.

This is a matter of concern for the health ministry, which has been moving to get Jamaicans to take personal responsibility for making their homes and business places less habitable for the insects.

"Anywhere you see tyres collected, it's going to provide a major area for risk of transmission because tyres are a major breeding site," medical entomologist Sherine Huntley-Jones disclosed during an Editors' Forum hosted by the newspaper at its North Street, Kingston, office, on Wednesday.

"I know they are probably tired of hearing us say personal responsibility, but we must continue to appreciate that this sector is one that is up close and personal around the home. Fogging will not work alone to deal with the vector [because] it hides inside, it feeds inside, and rarely comes out. So the fogging process is very limited, at best, in dealing with the sector," the expert explained.

INDIVIDUAL EFFORT

With the cost of fighting the dreaded disease already at J$1 billion and climbing, Huntley-Jones argued that the Government's efforts must be matched by the individual and concerted actions of all Jamaicans.

"The only way to fully deal with it is if persons take on the responsibility of dealing with those breeding sites," she insisted.

To this end, the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development has launched a national clean-up campaign under which the proper disposal of used tyres is a major objective.

In fact, the national task force established to address the issue of the island's state of cleanliness, particularly in light of the imminent threat of the Zika virus, will focus its efforts on supervision, sensitisation, and removal household and bulk waste in Hanover on Saturday.

The team, led by Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie, and comprising technical and management staff, has been working with the health ministry, the National Solid Waste Management Authority, the Social Development Commission, the National Works Agency, the Jamaica Constabulary Force, and the Jamaica Defence Force to effect the islandwide clean-up.

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com