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LETTER OF THE DAY - Inefficient dissemination of information on chikungunya disease

Published:Thursday | October 2, 2014 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir: I have observed with great consternation the inefficient dissemination of information by the minister of government responsible for health on the issue of the vector-borne disease chikungunya. This epidemic is associated with the global warming the world is currently experiencing, and is not dissimilar to the West Nile virus; the symptoms of both are almost identical. A salient difference is that the West Nile virus is in some cases is fatal. Jamaica is not the only area currently experiencing a vector-borne epidemic. The Los Angeles district in the USA and areas of Texas are being similarly affected.

Government action:

1) Appropriate samples of vector viruses should be collected and tested by the use of mosquito trap devices.

2) The Patriot Mosquito Magnet trap mm4100 Patriot brand is being recommended as the most appropriate device to be employed for government surveillance.

3) Traps should be disbursed appropriately throughout the island, and constantly monitored and samples collected so that the carriers' movements can be established and people appro-priately warned/advised.

Note 1: If the public were advised of surveillance and testing methods, concerns regarding whether or not the virus was vector-borne would not have been an issue.

Preventive measures:

1) Dark clothing attracts mosquitoes.

2) Doors and windows should be appropriately screened and kept in good repair.

3) Mosquito nets should be placed over beds and properly secured before retiring, coupled with the use of insect repellents and the label instructions carefully followed. The Deet repellent, although very effective, has some serious and negative side effects. Reports advise that products containing in excess of 30 per cent Deet content are banned by Canadian health authorities.

4) For those who can afford it, mosquito traps Independence brand should be used. This particular brand has been proven most effective in covering areas up to an acre. Of course, there are other brands.

5) The water collected in rainwater-harvesting containers and tanks should be appropriately secured by having a layer of vegetable oil applied to the surface. This will kill the lava which needs fresh air to sustain itself.

6) Persons should keep the authorities advised of public drainage systems which need attention. Mr Minister, please see to the cleaning of blocked drains; it is an urgent necessity. Whether or not it's a central government or parish council responsibility, you are the one responsible for the country's health well-being.

Note 2: How mosquito traps work:

Mosquito antennae detect carbon dioxide released from people's lungs and are capable of picking up more than 340 chemical odours exuded from the human skin, including octenal, a substance found in perspiration.

Maxillary palpus, located in the head of the mosquitoes, detect warm blood and can pinpoint arterial capillaries close to the surface of the skin.

Mosquito traps take advantage of the mosquitoes' sensory abilities by tricking them with features that mimic the smells and visual stimuli associated with people. It produces CO2 octenal, heat and/or light or a combination of these to lure mosquitoes to the trap and then in a container where they die.

It goes without saying that several mosquito species will be collected in traps, but it is important that all that are collected be carefully sorted, and the culprit mosquitoes, if among the trapped insects, properly tested.