September 21, 2012
Fight the bite!

by Mr Reynold Hewitt Fri, Sept 21, 2012

There are approximately 2,500 different species of mosquito around the world. Here in St Vincent, according to research conducted, there are 10 species of mosquito, seven of which are capable of transmitting diseases to human and animals.{{more}}

At this time of the year, there is an increase in the number of mosquitoes on the island including the Aedes Aegypti, which is responsible for the spread of dengue fever. We therefore need to be conscious of the threat of dengue fever, also known as “break bone fever”.

The Ministry of Health has the mandate to provide the necessary services to eradicate or control mosquitoes; however, officers cannot be everywhere. We as householders therefore have a responsibility to ensure that our sanitation practices do not provide a place for them to live. Any open container that can hold water is a potential breeding ground for mosquitoes; therefore it is important that all containers be disposed in the garbage.

To fight the bite of mosquitoes, we need to know certain things about these insects.

Mosquitoes bite at certain times of the day. The Aedes Aegypti mosquito bites during the day, but prefers to bite at dust and dawn. Other mosquitoes bite during the day and night. Knowing this, householders can close their windows and doors early in the evening or open them later than usual in the morning or wear long sleeved shirts and pants, as they like to bite the lower limbs.

In addition, they are attracted to you by the waste that emanates from your skin and the carbon dioxide released from the respiratory system. You cannot stop these body wastes, but you can apply insect repellent to repel mosquitoes. When using insect repellent, ensure that it contains one of these active ingredients: DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon, eucalyptus. Remember, when using mosquito repellents, read the manufacturer’s instructions to know how often to use them. Also, sleeping under a mosquito net does offer some protection. In these modern times, there are chemically treated nets which repel mosquitoes. If you have access to one, use it.

To fight the bite, we can attack the mosquitoes where they live. Some likely places are drums, tires and tanks. Recently, an assessment of fifteen houses by officers from the Vector Control Unit revealed that eight of the fifteen houses were breeding mosquitoes. Now, that is a lot of containers and a lot of mosquitoes entering the environment.

The Aedes Aegypti mosquito prefers to breed in the drum, tank and tire. If we cover the drums each time after opening them, we can keep the mosquitoes out, and likewise the tank. If we have tires, we can put dirt in them or cut them open. If we have mosquitoes, it means that the breeding ground is nearby, as mosquitoes do not fly far from their source of water or blood meal.

The flight habits of mosquitoes depend again on the species with which we are dealing. Most domestic species remain fairly close to their point of origin, while some species known for their migration habits are often found far from their breeding place. The flight range for females is usually longer than that of males. Many times, wind is a factor in the dispersal or migration of mosquitoes. Most mosquitoes stay within a mile or two of their source. However, some have been recorded as far as 75 miles from their breeding source.

Remember it is your responsibility to turn over all water holding containers or to keep them covered. By protecting your containers you are fighting the bite of mosquitoes. So, “Fight the bite”.