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Topic: Mosquito Research and Control Unit

Ministry of Health mum on replacing MRCU director

The Ministry of Health is keeping quiet on the absence of Mosquito Research and Control Unit director Dr. James McNelly, amid rumours that his contract has not been renewed.

The battle against mosquitos: Breaking down the chemicals used by MRCU

The Mosquito Research and Control Unit uses a number of insecticides with chemicals known to be toxic to bees, aquatic life and, in some cases, humans.

Explainer: What’s up with the mosquitoes?

The current boom in blood-sucking bugs has resulted from a combination of factors, including tides and rainfall, reduced aerial spraying, and the species of mosquitoes overrunning the island, explains Dr. James McNelly, director of the Mosquito Research and Control Unit.

Health officials on high alert following dengue cases

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.

Wet weather brings more mosquitoes

The Mosquito Research and Control Unit says it expects mosquito numbers to grow in the coming days.

MRCU testing mosquitoes that target blue iguanas

A new study being conducted by the Mosquito Research and Control Unit is targeting mosquitoes that feed on blue iguanas. The research project, which began in April this year, is a joint effort between the MRCU and Mississippi State University.

New hires and promotions at Mosquito Research and Control Unit

The Mosquito Research and Control Unit has recently welcomed three disease protection officers to its team.

Spray plane targets Sister Islands mosquitoes

The Mosquito Research and Control Unit is stepping up efforts to combat mosquitos across Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.

Concerns rise over island-wide mosquito ‘infestation’

Mosquito Research and Control Unit director Jim McNelly acknowledged that the Cayman Islands was facing a “bad infestation” of swamp mosquitoes.

Backyard mosquito inspections under way

Inspectors from the Mosquito Research and Control Unit recently began residential inspections to help eliminate breeding opportunities for the disease carrying Aedes aegypti mosquito.

Joint mosquito research project comes to a close

The Mosquito Research and Control Unit has formally ended its joint collaboration with Oxitec on a 35-week program designed to pinpoint the best way to combat the Aedes aegypti mosquito.

Letter: Well-planned development is welcome in Barkers

Development of the area is not wrong if it is done properly. Where would Cayman be today without development?

Minister: No more funds for genetically modified mosquito program

Cayman’s genetically modified mosquito project has not worked as effectively as government hoped and will be abandoned, Health Minister Dwayne Seymour said Thursday.

Government working on mosquito eradication plan

The government’s new focus group for mosquito eradication will debate a variety of approaches, said Jim McNelly, the director of the Mosquito Research and Control Unit.

Release of genetically modified mosquitoes to resume this month

A $588,000 project to test the effectiveness of genetically modified mosquitoes in combination with traditional control methods will begin later this month.

EDITORIAL – GM mosquito response (cont’d)

Ms. Barnard also emphasized her track record of honesty and commitment to transparency, providing several examples of such conduct in her career in government and the nonprofit sector.

Letter: MRCU responds to GeneWatch FOI release

New MRCU Director Jim McNelly Ph.D. says his team and Oxitec are in agreement on how, where and when to proceed with the evaluation. It will also be up to MRCU to evaluate what success will look like.

Scientists cast doubt on GM mosquito impact

The depth of skepticism among scientists at the Mosquito Research and Control Unit about the success of genetically modified mosquitoes in Grand Cayman is revealed in a cache of internal emails released following an open records request.

Oxitec responds to report

MRCU has rightfully carried out their due diligence with regards to the Friendly Mosquitoes solution and has always been supportive of the technology.

Emails reveal GM mosquito program impact was overstated

A government report contained inaccurate information that overstated the genetically modified mosquito program’s success, according to recently released internal emails between government and MRCU officials.

No solution in sight for iguana control

It will take a dedicated commitment of money and resources to control or eradicate Cayman’s green iguana population, according to Department of Environment experts.

Mosquito Research and Control Unit appoints new director

The Mosquito Research and Control Unit announced on Tuesday that it has appointed James McNelly as its new director.

EDITORIAL – GM mosquitoes: What happened to the ‘Swat Team’?

In spring 2016, amid the maelstrom of fears over the Zika virus, the Cayman Islands government announced with considerable public fanfare that officials were partnering with a British firm to introduce a novel mosquito control method to the territory.

Government backs away from genetically modified mosquito rollout

A multimillion dollar plan for the islandwide rollout of Cayman’s genetically modified mosquito program has been significantly scaled back amid budget cuts and concerns that the technology has yet to fully prove itself.

Some progress on longstanding issues

I notice that speed limit signs are now being erected throughout the district of West Bay. However there is still a lot of speeding going on and I believe that it could be due to the lack of speed limit signs, as I mentioned in previous letters.

More mosquitoes likely to follow heavy rains

The Mosquito Research and Control Unit says it is expecting a “significant emergence” of mosquitoes over the coming days due to heavy rains recently.

Genetically modified mosquitoes in Cayman swat wild population

Genetically modified mosquitoes have made a significant impact in reducing  wild populations of the disease-spreading insects in the West Bay release area.

Heavy rainfall brings more mosquitoes

A recent spike in activity is the result of heavy rains in late September and early October, pushing mosquito populations higher. Only halfway through the month, total figures for trapped mosquitoes are already 8 percent higher than last October.

50 years ago: Radio station considered; professor visits mosquito unit

In the Aug. 23, 1967 edition of the Caymanian Weekly, a precursor of the Cayman Compass, the following article titled “Radio Station – Engineering Survey” appeared:

Watchdog group criticizes genetically modified mosquito project

While researchers hope to expand their genetically modified mosquito program to the entire island of Grand Cayman around February, a U.K.-based nonprofit organization has released a report questioning the efficacy of the initiative and criticizing the project’s public approval process.

Mosquito spraying planned for coming weeks

The Mosquito Control and Research Unit will conduct aerial spraying over mosquito breeding swamps in the coming weeks in Grand Cayman and the Sister Islands.

50 years ago: Mosquito control and dynamite

In the Aug. 23, 1967 edition of the Caymanian Weekly, a precursor of the Cayman Compass, an article titled “Assembly Shown M.R.C.U. Dyke Building Project” informed the community about important work being done in the community.

Islandwide GM mosquito release approved

The National Conservation Council on Wednesday unanimously approved the islandwide rollout of the genetically modified mosquito program without the need for a new independent risk assessment. Bill Petrie, head of the Mosquito Research and Control Unit, said a national program using the technique to fight the disease-spreading Aedes aegypti mosquito could begin in February next year.

Concern over national rollout of genetically modified mosquito project

Opponents of the use of genetically modified mosquitoes in the Cayman Islands say an application to use the technique island wide is “premature.”

Plan hatched to release GM mosquitoes across Cayman Islands

Plans to expand the release of genetically modified mosquitoes across Grand Cayman have been submitted to the National Conservation Council.

As Zika fears fade, new threats loom

As fears over the spread of the Zika virus fade, public health officials are warning of a likely outbreak of a new strain of dengue fever in the Caribbean. There have been no new cases of Zika in Cayman since December, but doctors and scientists at the MRCU warn of new threats on the horizon.

GM mosquitoes making an impact in West Bay

The release of some 8 million genetically modified mosquitoes in West Bay has had a significant impact in reducing populations of the disease-spreading insects in the targeted area, researchers say. Preliminary data from the MRCU shows that the GM males are successfully mating with females in the wild.

Hundreds of students explore job fair

More than 500 students attended a career fair last month to learn about jobs ranging from handling drug-sniffing dogs to working in a medical lab and operating drones. The Careers Fair, hosted by Cayman Academy at the University College of the Cayman Islands, drew students from Cayman’s public and private schools.

Dry weather brings possible end to mosquito season

Dry weather over the past weeks may signal the end of mosquito season for the year, and with it a lower threat of the mosquito-borne Zika virus. The number of suspected Zika cases has dropped significantly from a high of more than 20 per week at the end of the summer to one or two cases per week now.

Florida Keys voters reject, and approve, GM mosquitoes

In dueling votes over a proposed trial of Oxitec’s genetically modified mosquitoes, voters across one Florida county supported releasing the insects, while voters in the town earmarked for the project rejected holding the trial there. Key Haven voted overwhelmingly Tuesday against the proposal, but voters in Monroe County supported holding the trial.

UPDATED: Zika town hall meeting slated for North Side Civic Centre

The East End town hall meetings about the Zika virus will be taking place on Tuesday, Nov. 8, from 5:30-7 p.m. at the East End Civic Centre. The meetings have been scheduled by the Public Health Department to inform residents about Zika and to address concerns, especially for pregnant women.

50 years ago: Scope of mosquito issues highlighted

In the Oct. 19, 1966 edition of the Caymanian Weekly, a precursor of the Cayman Compass, news from George Town included: “Dr. M.E.C. Giglioli has informed the Caymanian that the Mosquito Research and Control Unit has recently been granted 41,329 pounds from Colonial Development and Welfare funds to cover capital equipment costs during its first two years of operation ending in April 1968."

Second pregnant woman contracts Zika in Cayman

A second pregnant woman has tested positive for the Zika virus, according to Cayman Islands public health officials. The second case was confirmed after a report was made by the Public Health Department on Wednesday, indicating that 17 locally contracted cases were confirmed along with 10 cases in people who had traveled overseas.

Town hall meetings on Zika rescheduled

Town hall meetings about the Zika virus have been rescheduled. The meetings have been scheduled by Public Health to inform residents about Zika and to address concerns, especially for pregnant women. Everyone is invited, particularly pregnant women.

UPDATED: Pregnant woman among Cayman’s new Zika cases

Cayman now has 17 confirmed locally transmitted cases of Zika, including one pregnant woman, according to public health officials. All of the confirmed local cases are in George Town. The total number of cases confirmed with laboratory results, including those suspected to have come from overseas travel, is now 26.

A guide to Cayman’s public enemy No. 1: mosquitoes

The disease, disruption and dismay they cause, however, is world-class, beyond all proportion to their size. This is what you need to know about the seven genuses of mosquito that call the Cayman Islands home.

The frog

EDITORIAL – The mysterious threat of Zika

The Public Health Department’s upcoming series on the Zika virus may be just what the doctor ordered.

Zika ‘town hall’ meetings start next week

Cayman Islands public health officials are hosting a series of meetings aimed at informing local residents, especially pregnant women, about risks associated with the Zika virus. The meetings are set to start on Tuesday.

Oxitec’s GM mosquitoes starting to show impact

Researchers studying the release of genetically modified mosquitoes in West Bay say they are starting to see the gene show up in mosquito larvae, meaning those mosquitoes likely will not survive to adulthood.

Mosquito Unit works overtime in Zika fight

The staff at Cayman’s Mosquito Research and Control Unit has been putting in long days as they fight to stop Zika transmission in Grand Cayman.

Two more Zika cases confirmed in George Town

Two more people, both of George Town, have tested positive for the Zika virus, according to the Public Health Department. There are now five confirmed cases of Zika in the Cayman Islands, all of which have been in George Town.

Mosquito Unit works to protect pregnant women as Zika fears grow

Some pregnant women have left the Cayman Islands and others are putting off moves to Grand Cayman now that there are known local Zika transmissions. But leaving a job and traveling overseas is not an option for many women who are pregnant and couples trying to conceive.

Public Health confirms third local Zika case

Public health officials Thursday confirmed a third local case of the Zika virus, all of which have occurred in George Town.

Most support GM mosquito initiative, says survey

A new government survey found most people on Grand Cayman support the ongoing trial of genetically modified mosquitoes in West Bay.

Two local Zika cases confirmed

Two people in George Town are Cayman’s first official cases of locally transmitted Zika, according to public health officials. The islands have had six cases of Zika imported by people visiting other countries, but these are the first reported incidents of the virus being acquired locally.

Cayman reports first local Zika case

The Public Health Department late Monday confirmed the first locally transmitted case of Zika in the Cayman Islands. Previously, there had been seven documented cases that were contracted outside of Cayman, but public health officials confirmed that a man in George Town is the first person confirmed to became infected with Zika in the islands.

US gives green light to GM mosquito tests in Florida

As Oxitec and the Mosquito Research and Control Unit ramp up releases of genetically modified mosquitoes in West Bay, regulators in the U.S. gave the company the green light to test the GM mosquitoes on an island in the Florida Keys.

Fourth imported case of Zika virus confirmed

The Cayman Islands’ fourth imported case of the Zika virus was confirmed Wednesday by public health officials.

EDITORIAL – Keeping Cayman free of threatening ‘Zika mosquitoes’

Given the choice between the risks associated with “natural” Aedes aegypti mosquitoes (which carry nasty viruses like Zika, chikungunya, dengue and yellow fever) and the potential risks of “genetically modified” Aedes aegypti mosquitoes (which are engineered to reduce the wild population) – we find ourselves more and more inclined to give the GM mosquitoes a chance.

Thousands of genetically modified mosquitoes released

Thousands of genetically modified mosquitoes were released in West Bay on Thursday, kicking off what the Mosquito Research and Control Unit and collaborator Oxitec call their “Friendly Aedes aegypti project.”

Exonerated

Judge explains mosquito project decision

When lawyers of opponents to the genetically modified mosquito project filed an application for a stay and judicial review on July 13 – a review that could have ended the project – Justice Ingrid Mangatal suddenly had more than 598 pages worth of evidence and documents to review.

GM Mosquitoes

Mosquito ‘control’ that doesn’t

We cannot keep pumping insecticide into the environment and hope to win against the mozzies.
(file photo)

Judge: GM mosquito project can proceed

The release of millions of genetically modified mosquitoes in West Bay can proceed, after a Grand Court judge on Tuesday refused an application for another stay of the project.

Judge rejects GM mosquito review

A Grand Court judge on Monday refused an application for a judicial review that could have stopped the planned release of millions of genetically modified mosquitoes in West Bay.

Judge to rule Monday on release of GM mosquitoes

A judge will deliver her ruling on Monday on whether millions of genetically modified mosquitoes can be released in West Bay.
(file photo)

Judicial review of GM mosquito plan gets under way

A lawyer representing opponents of a planned release of millions of genetically modified mosquitoes in West Bay told a judicial review Tuesday that a “proper risk assessment” of the project had not been done.

Maybe dead

Third Zika case in Cayman confirmed

A third case of imported Zika virus in the Cayman Islands has been confirmed by public health officials.

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