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