Guarding Against Mosquito-borne Illnesses

PRESS RELEASE – “COMMUNITY participation is critical to the success of any programme designed to eliminate breeding sites of the Aedesaegypti mosquito. Efforts are doomed to failure if even one household is negligent.”

So said Dr. C. James Hospedales, Executive Director of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), as he commented on the importance of Caribbean Mosquito Awareness Week, which is being observed from May 8-12.

In his assessment of the mosquito prevention efforts in the region thus far, Dr.Hospedales noted that strategies for the control of the mosquito, which causes Dengue, Chikungunya and Zika, are failing and stated that what is needed is an “all hands onboard approach.”

Dr. Karen Polson Edwards, CARPHA Assistant Director of Surveillance, Disease Prevention Control, supports this “all hands onboard approach perspective” as she said “mosquitoes are social creatures and we are their preferred host. Their breeding sites are mostly man-made water containers. This being the case, we all have the power to eliminate them by destroying their breeding sites. The message of taking ten minutes a week to check surroundings for and destroying any breeding sites is always relevant and should become part of our routine.”

For Caribbean Mosquito Awareness Week 2017, strengthening household and community participation is key. Everyone feels the effects of mosquito-borne illnesses. It affects our economy and has the potential to negatively affect the tourism sector, the major revenue earner for many Caribbean islands. It also contributes to loss of productivity, ill health and death. The possibility of babies being born with microcephaly and men, in particular, contracting Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) as a result of being bitten by an infected Aedesaegypti mosquito, are also of concern.

The purpose of Caribbean Mosquito Awareness Week, which is in its second year, is to bring greater awareness to the mosquito vector through education and social engagement in CARPHA member states. It is hoped that greater awareness and engagement would bring about behavioural change leading to the elimination of the Aedesaegypti mosquito and greater personal protection, especially as the rainy season approaches.

Everyone has a part to play in the elimination of breeding sites and taking the necessary steps to ensure that he or she is not bitten. We need to therefore:
• Avoid mosquito bites
• Destroy mosquito-breeding sites by securely covering domestic water storage containers such as barrels, drums and buckets; properly discarding tyres and containers that collect water; and covering and sealing tanks, soak-aways and cisterns.

Caribbean Mosquito Awareness Week is observed annually during the second week of May. Its theme is Small bite, big threat: fight the bite, destroy mosquito breeding sites”.

More information is available on Caribbean Mosquito Awareness Week website http://caribbeanmosquitoweek.carpha.org/

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