Thu | Jan 17, 2019

Mosquito alert!

Published:Sunday | May 20, 2018 | 12:00 AM
The Aedes albopictus, popularly known as the Asian tiger mosquito.

The Ministry of Health is urging Jamaicans to practise continued vigilance in dealing with mosquito breeding sites.

With the island now in the rain season, the ministry has noted that a new Aedes mosquito, the Aedes albopictus, popularly known as the Asian tiger mosquito, was confirmed on the island last year.

This mosquito has similar competency as the Aedes aegypti and is able to transmit the dengue, chikungunya and Zika viruses. It is found breeding in the same habitat as the Aedes aegypti: in water-holding containers, such as drums and tyres.

According to the health ministry, the control strategies that are used for the Aedes aegypti are the same for the Asian tiger.

"As such, Jamaicans must continue their vigilance in dealing with the breeding sites that were identified for the Aedes aegypti in and around their homes," said the ministry in a release yesterday.

"The key is for persons to continue, or begin, the action of once each week, searching and destroying the breeding sites (water-holding containers) for the mosquitoes," added the ministry.

The health ministry also noted that under the Mosquito Control and Research Unit, it will continue its surveillance to determine the spread of this new species.

The ministry added that it will also shortly launch its annual Enhanced Vector Control Programme for the months of June-October, in an effort to reduce the vector population of arboviruses.

"This will see the employment of 1,000 temporary workers, who will be engaged at the community level to disseminate information about the vector populations, as well as to look for and destroy/treat those breeding sites," said the ministry.

The Asian tiger mosquito is an exotic species that gets its tiger name from the single white stripe down the centre of its head and back.

It is native to Asia and was formerly recorded in this region in Harris County, Texas, United States, in 1985. It was first detected in Caribbean in the Dominica Republic in 1993.

Since then, it has been confirmed in Barbados, Trinidad, the Caymans, and Cuba, along with the Central and South American States of El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Colombia, and Bolivia since the late 1990s.

It is ranked as one of the world's 100 most invasive species.