'Insecticide used to kill mosquitoes ineffective'
Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
MALAPHION, THE chief insecticide used in the fogging exercise to attack the adult mosquito population, has been found to be ineffective in killing the disease-carrying insects.
Dr Fenton Ferguson, the country's health minister, said on Tuesday that a survey has found that the chemical is not working.
"We are looking, not just at that as a chemical, we are looking at the alternative, because in Kingston, St Andrew and St Catherine, there is evidence that we are developing immunity in some areas," Ferguson said in the House of Representatives.
Dr Kenneth Baugh, the opposition spokesman on health, had used the floor of Parliament to raise the question of the effectiveness of the Malaphion.
"A part of the control is to do surveillance of the mosquitoes themselves. In Cayman, for instance, there are traps for mosquitoes; counting the eggs ... the important mosquitoes are identified such as the Aedes aegypti and the Aedes albopictus.
Ferguson said Jamaica is currently in discussion with the Cayman Islands with a view to sharing best practices in the control of mosquitoes. He said, an announcement on the outcome will soon be made.
Meanwhile, Baugh has pointed to other methods of control employed elsewhere, which include releasing genetically modified mosquitoes in the wild. He said, through that method, an offspring is produced that can be easily controlled.
"Once such method is to make the life cycle of a mosquito dependent on a mosquito called Aureomycin," Baugh said.
Meanwhile, Ferguson said while St Thomas, one of the first parishes to be affected by the chikungunya virus, is seeing a decline in incidents, travelling westerly across the country, the virus is picking up steam.
"We have not yet peaked, but the parishes that have the early attack, they have peaked," the minister said.
Baugh said, with the newness of chikungunya to the country, medical practitioners are being faced with several related issues such as people suffering relapses.
"I don't think the world understands what is taking place. We don't know if it is a recurrent infection, we don't know if it is a virus in the tissues, we don't know if it is an autoimmune response," Baugh said.
He further suggested that the Ministry of Health lead a study on the impact of the chikungunya virus so as to make it better able to treat the complications.
Ferguson agreed with the suggestion and said studying the phenomenon would help to guide the way medical doctors treat complications relating to chikungunya.
He said such work can be taken on by the Tropical Metabolism Research Unit, which is located at the University of the West Indies, Mona.