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ZIKV enters the region - Mosquito attack has residents running for cover

Published:Monday | June 8, 2015 | 12:00 AMGary Spaulding
A section of the Sandy Gully, near Washington Boulevard, St Andrew, with its stagnant water and overgrown vegitation, could be a perfect breeding site for mosquitoes.

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With the painful memories of the recent past still fresh and the threat of a new disease hovering, residents of communities in St Andrew are complaining that they are under heavy attack from armies of mosquitoes.

Members of the communities of Long Mountain in eastern St Andrew and Coopers Hill in west rural St Andrew at one end of the parish to Washington Gardens; and Patrick Gardens;

New Haven; Havendale and Hughenden in northwest St Andrew, told The Gleaner that the pestilential onslaught started three weeks ago.

"An unusually large number of mosquitoes has been observed over the past three to four weeks," said Lisa Lewis, a resident of Hughenden.

"The number seems to be more in the early mornings and late evenings. They are mostly outside; however, few can be seen inside during the days," Lewis. "Of note is the fact that there are no breeding sites in the home."


No fogging


The complaints have prompted North Western St Andrew Member of Parliament Derrick Smith to dispatch an SOS to the Ministry of Health after being summoned by residents of Havendale to witness the onslaught first-hand over the weekend.

"We had to run for cover," said Smith. "This comes at a time when a new mosquito-borne disease lurks after the crippling one less than a year ago."

Smith, who was hard hit by the chikungunya virus last year, said the situation is more troubling, as there have been no reports of fogging in areas with hills and valleys.

"We are, therefore, repeating our call to the Ministry of Health to ensure maintenance of a sustained fogging programme throughout the Corporate Area," said Smith, who represents area called 'Mosquito Valley'.

Permanent secretary in the health ministry, Dr Kevin Harvey, has suggested that the outbreak of the zika virus (ZIKV) in Brazil poses a potential threat to Jamaica and that the ministry was taking the threat very seriously.

Efforts to reach Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson failed.


big and black pests


The residents' concerns coincide with reports that a case of ZIKV has reached regional shores after the devastating and deadly impact of the chikungunya virus that was last year declared an epidemic.

Collet Spalding, another resident, said: "Over the past two weeks, there has been a proliferation of mosquitoes in the Duhaney Park, Patrick Gardens and Washington Gardens areas."

A resident of Patrick Gardens, Spalding said: "I take every precaution to ensure that I have no breeding sites! Yet, I can't even go out in the yard without them literally attacking me."

Media reports have surfaced that ZIKV is now in the Caribbean.

A report from the El Nueve Diario in the Dominican Republic, says a case of the virus has been recorded in the country.

The report states a 12-year-old girl from Puerto Plata contracted the virus and was currently hospitalised in a private clinic in the city.

It comes one month after Brazilian media reported on a number of ZikV virus infections in that South American country.