Abandoned properties posing challenges to vector control exercises, CBH says

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1. New CBH building on Church Street. (Photo by Latrishka Thomas)
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Public health officials have encountered a particular issue which can be resolved with the support of residents.

The Central Board of Health (CBH) Vector Control Unit has been working tirelessly to prevent major outbreaks of vector-borne diseases for some time, but abandoned or vacant properties have begun to hinder its efforts.

According to Senior Health Inspector Julienne Mannix, abandoned properties have provided some challenges in carrying out the unit’s primary tasks, including the identification and elimination of mosquito breeding sites which is necessary to prevent diseases such as dengue and Zika.

She provided examples where water catchments — such as uncovered tanks on properties that the Vector Control Unit is unable to gain access — can quickly become breeding sites for mosquitoes.

“We do have issues with properties like that and most of the time, the place is closed up, so we don’t have access to them. Some of them, we cannot treat them, but those that we have access to we do treat them.

“Property that is under construction is also an issue; you stop working on the property for a while so you have cisterns that are [unfinished] and become breeding sites,” Mannix explained.

The Senior Health Inspector also appealed to residents to report cases where properties have been abandoned, to the CBH, so its workers can address the issues by contacting the owners of the properties.

“We work along with the Survey Unit where we can get the information in terms of who the property belongs to and get access to the property and if they are not using the tank, we will turn it over — things like that. If there are containers inside of the yard and we see that it is holding water we destroy those containers to prevent them from becoming breeding sites. It’s just to call CBH and then we can assist in that,” she said.

The female Aedes Aegypti mosquito can be found in tropical locations and is responsible for the spread of several illnesses when it bites humans to obtain blood.

Antigua and Barbuda has been affected by Chikungunya (Chik-V) in 2014-15; Zika virus in 2017-2018; and more recently dengue in 2020.

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