MRCU increases mosquito control efforts

Local health officials said they have heightened surveillance efforts in the wake of six confirmed cases of dengue fever in Grand Cayman.

They are urging the public to take steps to eradicate any possible mosquito breeding places for the disease-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquito to help control the spread of the virus.

In its latest dengue update, the Ministry of Health said on Friday that public health officials are continuing their close collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the Mosquito Research and Control Unit “to ensure appropriate measures are undertaken to mitigate the health impact in the Islands”.

So far, Cayman has six confirmed cases, including three locally transmitted and three imported. The ministry statement pointed out that “usually there are no more than ten confirmed cases annually”.

Throughout the region, more than 2.6 million cases have been reported, including almost 21, 000 severe cases.

With the regional statistics rising, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Samuel Williams-Rodriguez said, “Medical personnel are on continued alert to look for any further locally transmitted and imported cases.”

The MRCU, according to the ministry, is also increasing its mosquito-control programme “with additional measures, including thermal fogging to kill biting mosquitoes that can transmit the disease, wide-area aerial spraying, truck-based larviciding directed at containers and barrier spraying directed at sites where mosquitoes rest”.

The MRCU will also continue its control efforts, with ongoing work to identify and eliminate mosquito breeding grounds, including remote areas, around the islands, officials said.
MRCU Director Jim McNelly, stressed “the critical importance of gaining access to homeowners’ properties to undertake vital surveillance and treatments”.

Health Minister Dwayne Seymour urged residents to continue to stay alert and safeguard themselves against mosquito bites.

“It will be much, much better for us all in the long run if we stay vigilant, protect ourselves from being bitten, and put every effort into stopping this disease early,” the minister said, as he highlighted the importance of maintaining a clean environment to reduce potential breeding sites.

It is a point Health Promotion Officer Therese Prehay agreed with, saying, “While there is the need to amplify surveillance for early detection, and appropriate response, there is also a great need to increase awareness among the general population on ways to prevent and protect against further spread of the mosquito-borne disease now that there has been cases of local transmission.”

She said it is important that to ensure local surroundings are clean and free of mosquito-breeding sites.

“Everyone should take it upon themselves to empty, dispose of, or cover any receptacles or containers capable of storing even small amounts of water. This includes used tyres, water storage drums, flowerpots, and tanks, as these are ideal breeding sites for the mosquitoes,” she said.

Cayman dengue statistics
37 cases in 2012
Four cases in last three years (three imported and one locally transmitted)
No cases were reported in 2017
Two imported cases in 2018

Regional outbreaks
Countries within the Caribbean, Central and South America have all reported dengue outbreaks. These include Brazil, Columbia, Cuba, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, St. Martin, and Trinidad and Tobago.