Letter of the day: MOH gets it wrong - again!
THE EDITOR, Sir:
I am greatly concerned about the incorrect information being spouted by the Ministry of Health (MOH) in the wake of what many have dubbed a mosquito uprising brought on by the recent bout of rainfall we have received.
The health ministry has made claims that "while the increase in the mosquito population can cause discomfort, these insects do not generally spread diseases".
Mosquitoes are vectors. The definition of a vector used by the World Health Organisation (WHO) is "organisms that transmit pathogens and parasites from one infected person (or animal) to another, causing serious diseases in human populations".
Mosquitoes are known to transmit the following diseases: dengue fever, chik-V, ZIKV, yellow fever and others not common to Jamaica like malaria, filariasis, West Nile virus, Japanese encephalitis, Saint Louis encephalitis, Western equine encephalitis, Eastern equine encephalitis, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, La Crosse encephalitis.
Therefore, the claims made by the MOH are not only inaccurate, but extremely dangerous. Let us not forget all the man hours and lives lost this same time last year from chik-V. The WHO and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention both issued travel advisories regarding Jamaica due to the severity of the problem.
The health ministry also claims that "the mosquitoes now causing concern for many citizens have increased in numbers because these types lay their eggs in the soil during the dry period, and once it rains, the eggs hatch". Research shows that there are two types of breeding habits of mosquitoes - those that are flood-water mosquitoes, as described above; and those that are permanent water mosquitoes which lay their eggs in water.
The Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is responsible for both dengue fever and chik-V is known as a permanent water mosquito, which means they like bodies of stagnant water to lay their eggs. How are we, the public, to know whether the mosquitoes enveloping the country have been washed up from the soil or have arisen from the several stagnant bodies of water the recent rains have left behind? The certainty with which the MOH has dismissed these mosquitoes as being harmless insults the intelligence of the Jamaican people yet again. Time and energy may be better spent trying to quickly establish proper vector control, first in the most affected areas, and then across the entire island. Let us not wait for another outbreak before something is done.
Dr S. Beecher
11a Kings Street