With the start of the rainy season and the first possible case of Zika linked to Cayman, the Mosquito Research and Control Unit is ramping up its operations to combat nuisance and disease-carrying mosquitoes.
The MRCU plane last week wrapped up its rounds of dropping pesticide pellets in mosquito-breeding areas, and the unit’s researchers are monitoring mosquito traps to treat problem areas with the fogging truck, according to MRCU director Bill Petrie.
“Now that the rains have started, we will probably see more Aedes aegypti,” Mr. Petrie said, referring to the mosquitoes that carry Zika, chikungunya and dengue.
Mr. Petrie said he is awaiting a report from the Public Health Department to find out whether the tourist who tested positive for Zika contracted the virus on the island or elsewhere.
Mr. Petrie said the MRCU has a two-phase strategy to deal with Zika in Cayman. The first phase, he said, is treating areas known to have Aedes aegypti to reduce the population before the virus comes to Cayman. The second phase will focus on eliminating adult mosquitoes instead of the larvae.
Regardless of the possible case of Zika, the MRCU director said his department plans to increase spraying because the recent rains will have resulted in an increase in mosquito populations of all types.
Zika has attracted international concern this year, with the World Health Organization declaring a global health emergency after Zika spread rapidly through South and Central America and much of the Caribbean. Most people who contract Zika will never show symptoms, though about 20 percent will have a fever, joint and muscle pains, and other symptoms similar to dengue and chikungunya.
The main concern with Zika is for pregnant woman. The virus can cause microcephaly and other severe brain defects in babies of infected mothers.
Dr. Samuel Williams-Rodriguez, acting medical officer of health and the head of public health for the Health Services Authority, said last week that a tourist is reported to have tested positive for Zika after returning home from Cayman. It is unclear where the person contracted the virus.