Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Mosquitoes on the rise, ministry to employ 500 to tackle Aedes Aegypti

Published:Monday | June 5, 2017 | 6:00 AMRomario Scott

In the aftermath of heavy rains flooding sections of the island two weeks ago, the Ministry of Health has disclosed that there is a significant increase in the population of nuisance mosquitoes.

Nuisance mosquitoes are those that persistently bite but do not necessarily carry pathogens such as dengue, Zika and chikungunya.

Entomologist in the health ministry, Sherine Huntley-Jones, told The Gleaner last week that the nuisance mosquitoes, while they do not pose any serious or immediate health risk, have had residents across the island complaining.

"Since we have had the heavy rains and flooding, we have seen a significant increase in the nuisance mosquito population. Those are the ones we call the Black Salt Marsh mosquitoes - they are big and black. They are the ones people are complaining about," she said.

The entomologist explained that Black Marsh mosquitoes, along with a specie known as the Psorophora, tend to lay eggs on damped soil.

"So because we have had these rains, all of those eggs would have hatched out all at once, which would have led to this significant increase," Huntley-Jones explained.

FOGGING EFFORTS

In response, Huntley-Jones said the health ministry is doing more fogging and oiling to control the mosquito population.

"We are doing those two things especially in those parishes which were flooded - St Ann, sections of St Catherine and Kingston. In addition, we have sent out (a public notice) informing residents of action they can take to protect themselves," she stated.

"Those communities with pools in the backyard, we have said to the resident, dig a drain so the water can run off, and that will help the mosquito situation," the entomologist added.

It is expected that the population of the nuisance mosquitoes will be on a decline within a month.

In the meantime, some 500 persons are to be hired by the ministry to clean up high-risk communities in danger of being affected by the pathogen-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquito.

"Their main mandate will be to go into those communities that we know will be affected by the Aedes aegypti to treat and overturn the unwanted containers which would have had the eggs of the mosquitoes," Huntley-Jones disclosed.

In recent times, the country has suffered from outbreaks of the Zika and chikungunya viruses transmitted by the female Aedes aegypti mosquito.

romario.scott@gleanerjm.com