Thu | Sep 21, 2023

Vector control workers re-engaged to combat mosquitoes menace

Published:Monday | September 12, 2022 | 12:05 AMChristopher Thomas/ Gleaner Writer


The St James Health Department says it has re-engaged its vector control worker programme as part of the effort to curtail the growth and spread of mosquito population at a time when the St James mosquito index ballooned to 17 per cent for the month of August.

Speaking at Thursday’s monthly meeting of the St James Municipal Corporation, Sherika Lewis, St James’ acting chief public health inspector, said the August’s figure showed a significant jump from the previous figure of 10 per cent during July.

“This may be attributed to major water shortage within the parish, as well as an increase in water storage. For this period, 3,742 premises were inspected, and 644 of them were found to be positive for mosquito breeding, plus 10,000 containers were inspected and 1,800 of them were found to be positive for mosquito breeding,” Lewis said.

“We are happy to announce that our temporary worker programme has commenced since Monday of this week, and we have re-engaged 40 workers. They have so far conducted two days of refresher training and have been assigned to communities across the parish since yesterday (Wednesday),” added Lewis.

While the vector control worker programme may have restarted, the cadre of workers is still significantly less than the 94 who had participated in the health department’s fogging and breeding-control exercises in 2020.

However, Lewis expressed confidence that the just-begun 2022-2023 school year will prove to be incident-free as far as vector control and other disease- prevention measures are concerned.


“With the reopening of schools this week, the health department remains vigilant in monitoring for public health standards to include vector control, as well as prevention and control of new emerging, and re-emerging diseases. We are imploring the school administrators to continue to keep abreast with new developments and to be ready to activate their infection and prevention-control measures,” said Lewis.

St James has had a constantly shifting Aedes mosquito index, which is used to determine the local spread of dengue fever. The highest Aedes index record to date was 25.6 per cent in October 2020, while the lowest was four per cent in July 2021.

So far, this year, the parish’s index stood at 12.6 per cent in January, falling to 10.8 per cent in February and then to 6.2 per cent in March, and then ballooned to 10.8 per cent in April. The month of May saw the index increase significantly to a 17.3-per-cent index, before decreasing slightly to 16 per cent in June and then further to 10 per cent in July.

The St James Health Department has been kept busy fogging several communities across the parish in its efforts to control the rate of mosquito breeding, despite rainy weather affecting their operations in August. Communities which have been fogged to date include Tangle River, Montpelier, Spot Valley, Retirement, Adelphi, and schools in Unity Hall, Norwood, Flankers, Glendevon, and Granville.

The department also distributed 93 covers across St James in August as part of efforts to keep mosquitoes from breeding in water drums.