Carpha: Ramp up mosquito-control efforts

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Dr Lisa Indar –

The Caribbean Public Health Agency (Carpha) has called for community-based mosquito control measures to be ramped up amidst a 200-fold increase in dengue cases in the region.

A statement on Monday said mosquito-borne diseases continued to pose a serious public-health threat to the Caribbean region, with Carpha receiving increased dengue outbreak reports with hospitalisations and deaths in some instances.

Carpha said it also received reports recently of confirmed cases of zika and chikungunya at its medical microbiology laboratory. It said those mosquito-borne diseases could have a major impact on the region’s way of life and tourist industry on which most of its islands depend.

Describing the magnitude of the outbreak, Carpha interim director Dr Lisa Indar said: “The region of the Americas has seen a 200-fold increase in suspected dengue cases in the first half of 2024, compared to the same period in 2023. Member states are encouraged to remain vigilant. It is crucial that surveillance, prevention and control measures are boosted to reduce the transmission of arboviruses in the Caribbean.”

Assistant director of surveillance, disease prevention and control, and head vector-borne diseases at Carpha Dr Horace Cox urged countries to strengthen integrated vector-management strategies in their communities.

“These include the elimination of mosquito breeding sites with the aim of reducing the number of mosquito larvae.”

To do this, Carpha said greater emphasis should be placed on mosquito control activities in communities, and these should be intensified.

“Carpha urges its member states to review their preparedness and response plans, as well as to continue surveillance, early diagnosis, and timely care of arboviral disease cases, to prevent complications leading to hospitalisation and deaths.”

Senior technical officer for vector-borne diseases at Carpha Rajesh Ragoo urged countries and communities to be proactive.

It reminded that theAedes aegypti mosquito responsible for spreading dengue is active during the day and urged people to wear repellent and long clothing to protect their skin.

“Carpha remains committed to supporting Carpha member states in their vector-control efforts, including capacity-building in integrated vector-control strategies.”

It said countries should continue to strengthen prevention and control measures such as surveillance, diagnosis, as well as timely and adequate treatment of cases and ensure health-care services are ready to facilitate access and proper management of patients with these diseases.

To protect against the disease, Carpha said people should:

1. Check and remove standing water from around their homes

2. Ensure surroundings are clean and free of materials or containers that can accumulate water around homes and communities

3. Use wire mesh/screens on doors and windows to help reduce the entry of mosquitoes into homes

4. Water storage drums and tanks must be properly covered and inspected periodically to ensure that there is no breeding

5. Roof gutters should also be cleaned to prevent water from pooling.