By Carlena Knight
Although the global focus has shifted to the novel coronavirus, local health officials are still advising residents on measures to combat the Aedes-aegypti mosquito.
Dengue fever is a tropical disease spread by that mosquito which carries the dengue virus. Those with the disease may have high fever, headache, vomiting, muscle and joint pains, and a characteristic skin rash.
In some serious cases, death has been the result.
Since January of this year, Antigua and Barbuda has reported over 80 cases of the dengue.
Senior Health Inspectors, Tajah Edwards and Julienne Mannix from the Central Board of Health (CBH), both spoke on the matter on Monday on the Observer AM show.
According to Edwards, efforts to educate the public on the correct methods to prevent breeding have intensified as cases continue to occur.
“We don’t want the public to forget about the Aedes-aegypti mosquito which is the carrier for dengue fever and other diseases such as Zika, Chikungunya and yellow fever, so you must be mindful that it’s still there and we just want householders to do their best and check their premises on a regular basis for potential breeding sites.
“We are still receiving suspected dengue cases. We get that information from the hospital; they would send the information to us, so it’s not like it’s out of the window, so it is still there. Plus, we have workers that go out in the different villages and do house inspections as well.”
The Central Board of Health, in addition to boosting media appearances has also ratcheted up efforts on their Facebook page with educational videos and images.
One of those highlighted areas is the breeding site for the mosquito, and according to Mannix, although tanks, drums and buckets are the most popular areas for breeding, there are other unfamiliar areas for the public to watch.
“It can be your potted plant, your spouting, your outlet pipe; if the gradient is off, that can be a source of breeding too. The Aedes-aegypti does not so much like dirty water, it prefers clean water, but if it is forced to, it will breed in those types of water so you cannot take anything for granted. You have to take the necessary precautions. Ensure that your cistern is properly sealed or the spouting itself is gauzed to prevent any instance of the mosquito getting an opportunity to breed,” Mannix said.
Tires, flowerpots, block holes on construction sites and even pet bowls were also mentioned.
Regarding fogging, the health officials mentioned that the amount of times a village may receive that service is based on the levels of breeding in the area. They further revealed that they are looking at alternative measures as they have heard the cries of environmentalists about the impact on nature itself.
For more information on this matter, and for persons who are aware of areas where breeding is prevalent, the public is encouraged to call the CBH at 764-4327.