Today’s Editorial November 07: Cayman actually quite lucky

A look at the number of confirmed dengue fever cases across the Caribbean should make us feel better about our situation in the Cayman Islands.

Close to 300 dengue cases have been reported in Jamaica.

Last month Mexico reported 67,562 cases with 5,212 developing into the hemorrhagic form. That country has since seen devastating flooding and landslides increasing the chances of people catching dengue and other diseases.

As of 5 October, The Pan American Health Organisation had logged 630,356 cases so far this year, 11 percent more than for all of 2006. Of those, 12,147 were of the severe hemorrhagic type and 183 people died. PAHO expects dengue cases in the hemisphere to top 1 million this year.

The agency blames changing weather patterns increased tourism and migration for the increase in dengue cases; all things that make the Cayman Islands the perfect place to catch dengue fever.

But we’ve been lucky – so far.

We’ve had only three cases confirmed with another 31 reported.

As soon as the first occurrence of suspected dengue was discovered, the Mosquito Research Control Unit was dispatched to the areas where the offending mosquito bit his victim. Now each time a case is reported MRCU crews are out in force spraying to get rid of the Aedes aegypti mosquito; the only one that is a vector for dengue.

It would appear their efforts are helping.

Too, the Cayman Islands just doesn’t have as many people in the population as do Jamaica, Mexico and other countries in the region.

It is possible for MRCU to wipe out the Aedes aegypti. Through the use of DDT, which the United States banned in 1972 and was eventually banned worldwide, beginning in 1966 Cayman was able to rid all three Islands of the mosquito completely in 1974. It did return, but was once again eliminated in 1997.

The nasty mosquito made its return to Cayman following Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

Now MRCU uses various insecticides that are approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency for use in mosquito control in the US.

Because the Aedes aegypti is a domestic mosquito it is rarely found away from occupied houses. It breeds in container habitats, favouring clean, fresh water and is adapted to artificial containers.

That’s why homeowners must be vigilant in making sure yards are cleared of standing water.

MRCU crews are to be commended for their hard work at protecting our health, but they need our help and cooperation.

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