Chief Health inspector, Lionel Michael has advised that government may need to explore other mosquito control methods, as current efforts are falling short.
Michael said biological, physical and mechanical control of the Aedes aegypti mosquito have not resulted in the total elimination of the mosquito, because of human behaviour, which takes time to change, so new technologies must be explored.
“People are concerned about modifying nature and its attendant consequences…. My only recommendation to people is to continue to read about it and the ministry of health and the government of Antigua & Barbuda and (other governments) around the Eastern Caribbean are looking at these technologies with caution,” he said.
Countries across the region have stepped up mosquito control efforts in hopes of avoiding further transmission of the Zika virus. Antigua & Barbuda had its first confirmation of the virus last week.
On Monday, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Caricom Secretariat launched Caribbean mosquito awareness week to promote the elimination of mosquito breeding sites, avoiding mosquito bites, and protecting pregnant women from the Zika virus.
The government in the Cayman Islands recently announced plans to utilize genetically modified mosquitoes, provided by British biotech company Oxitec, to control the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which spreads the Zika, Chikungunya, Dengue and Yellow Fever viruses.
The government of Antigua & Barbuda has rejected a similar proposal by Oxitec to release the mosquitoes here, on the premise that enough is not known about how the genetic modification will affect the ecosystem.
Read more in today’s Daily Observer.