To date, Grand Cayman has been very lucky when it comes to dengue fever, the disease spread by Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes.
Dengue fever is widespread in the Caribbean basin and is in fact epidemic in some locations. Luckily, however, only a small number of isolated cases have been confirmed here and in most of these the disease was contracted elsewhere.
Although the most common form of dengue fever is not usually fatal, dengue haemorrhagic fever can and has killed human beings, so it’s a dangerous disease.
Part of this success in avoiding dengue here can be attributed to Cayman’s small size, but the efforts of the Mosquito Research and Control Unit must be acknowledged as well.
Over its 46-year history, the MRCU has helped transform Grand Cayman into a much more inhabitable place. Most residents, even those who weren’t here then or are too young to remember, have heard tales of how bad the mosquito problem used to be here. Through various control methods, the MRCU has reduced the mosquito population to tolerable levels. Although we can still have times of many mosquitoes during the rainy months, the days of them being so dense they suffocated cows are thankfully over.
This week, the MRCU aeroplanes, a key mosquito control method, will take to the skies and begin spraying in a campaign targeted at the dengue-causing Aedes Aegypti. A successful early campaign can have big impact in reducing that particular mosquito not only this year, but next year, too.
However, the MRCU could really use some help from the residents of Grand Cayman.
Aedes Aegypti breed in standing fresh water that often pools in man-made vessels like water drums, buckets or even discarded old tires. The MRCU is asking residents to survey their properties for any places of standing water and to empty any containers where they find it. Reducing the number of breeding places can go a long way in reducing the population of the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, helping to ensure Grand Cayman remains mostly free from the dangers of dengue fever.