Spraying ramped up to stem dengue outbreak

To com­bat a pos­si­ble out­break of dengue, ports of en­try and all schools will be sprayed dur­ing the East­er break, says Health Min­is­ter Ter­rence Deyals­ingh.

Deyals­ingh was re­ply­ing to queries in the Sen­ate on Tues­day from UNC sen­a­tor Tahar­qa Obi­ka fol­low­ing the warn­ing is­sued by the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Caribbean Pub­lic Health Agency (Carpha) about a pos­si­ble dengue out­break.

Deyals­ingh said the Min­istry had not­ed the warn­ing from Carpha. He said in re­cent years, the Min­istry has been us­ing a Ge­o­graph­ic In­for­ma­tion Sys­tem to plot all ar­bovirus (virus­es trans­mit­ted by mos­qui­toes and oth­er arthro­pods) dis­ease cas­es.

To­geth­er with in­for­ma­tion pro­vid­ed from var­i­ous work sta­tions across T&T, spe­cial at­ten­tion is be­ing placed on high-risk ar­eas, he added. This in­cludes tyre shops, scrap yards and ar­eas which record­ed high-dis­ease bur­den, his­tor­i­cal­ly.

Deyals­ingh said this man­age­ment strat­e­gy has re­sult­ed in big ben­e­fits.

“This is ev­i­denced by a note­wor­thy re­duc­tion of both sus­pect­ed and lab­o­ra­to­ry-con­firmed dengue cas­es dur­ing 2014/18.”

He said sus­pect­ed dengue cas­es de­creased by 87.5 per cent from 5,517 cas­es in 2014 to 644 in 2018. Lab­o­ra­to­ry con­firmed dengue cas­es al­so de­creased from 331 in 2014 to three in 2018.

Af­ter the Carpha di­rec­tor’s warn­ing, Deyals­ingh said the In­sect Vec­tor Di­vi­sion has em­barked on a cam­paign to re­duce mos­qui­to breed­ing in­clud­ing spray­ing in­sec­ti­cide to pre­vent mos­qui­to breed­ing, tar­get­ing lar­va, source re­duc­tion, health/com­mu­ni­ty par­tic­i­pa­tion and oth­er as­pects.

He said these ac­tiv­i­ties are done rou­tine­ly through­out the year in a cy­cle sys­tem “which means each home is vis­it­ed ap­prox­i­mate­ly three to four times a year. “

There is al­so a planned school spray­ing pro­gramme to en­sure pre-schools, pri­ma­ry and sec­ondary schools are sprayed dur­ing the up­com­ing East­er va­ca­tion.

Pro­vi­sion of ad­e­quate re­sources is al­so in train. This in­cludes 400 litres of Al­pha-Cyper­me­thrin chem­i­cal, five new ul­tra-low vol­ume ma­chines, 10 pub­lic ad­dress sys­tems and more than 10,000 in­sec­ti­cide-treat­ed nets. The lat­ter is be­ing dis­trib­uted in at-risk ar­eas. He did not iden­ti­fy the ar­eas.

Deyals­ingh said cit­i­zens al­so have a sig­nif­i­cant role to play in re­duc­ing mos­qui­to breed­ing.

“Cit­i­zens are urged to en­sure that po­ten­tial breed­ing sites - in­clud­ing flower pots, saucers, vas­es, tyres, buck­ets, bar­rels, plas­tic drums and wa­ter stor­age con­tain­ers - are reg­u­lar­ly cleaned, re­moved, turned over or treat­ed...that’s your re­spon­si­bil­i­ty, not the State’s,” he added.

Deyals­ingh said it was par­tic­u­lar­ly im­por­tant since spray­ing can­not be done more than every four months since mos­qui­toes build up re­sis­tance to the chem­i­cals.

- Gail Alexander

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