Thu | Nov 23, 2017

Government and US agency partner to control mosquitoes

Published:Saturday | October 21, 2017 | 12:00 AMNadine Wilson-Harris
Dr Christopher Tufton

Up to 90 per cent of some homes have been found to be breeding grounds for the Aedes aegypti mosquito, but the Government will be partnering with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in the coming months to deal with this domestic species, which is responsible for the transmission of the Zika virus (ZIKV), dengue, and chikungunya.

The partnership will see both implementing the Zika AIRS Project (ZAP), which was launched yesterday at Jewel Paradise Cove in Runaway Bay, St Ann.

The project is intended to build the country's capacity to reduce and control the Aedes aegypti mosquito.

"In recent years, Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean have witnessed the emergence of several mosquito-borne diseases never before detected in this region. In 2014, the Chikungunya virus had a significant impact on the Caribbean, followed by ZIKV in 2016.

"Additionally, recurring epidemics of dengue fever are common in Jamaica," noted Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton during the launch.

"Vector-borne disease transmission across the island continues to be a serious public-health concern. Not only is Jamaica at risk for the above-mentioned diseases, the island is also under threat from the introduction of new viruses transmitted by the Aedes aegypti, including the Mayaro virus, which was detected in Haiti in 2015," he said.

The establishment of a Mosquito Control Research Unit (MCRU) in collaboration with the University of the West Indies was one of several initiatives introduced in recent times to help control vector populations of mosquitoes.

The one-year ZAP project is intended to support the organisational development of the MCRU, as well as an insectary at the Ministry of Health's National Laboratory.

A series of intensive vector-control interventions will also be introduced, and larviciding campaigns will be delivered in selected parishes under the project, which will also focus on exploring the use of new data tools and databases to identify hotspots and potential outbreaks.

nadine.wilson@gleanerjm.com