Understanding the Law
September 12, 2014
The chikungunya disease

Last week we looked at two pieces of legislation and today we will give a more detailed look at the prevention and destruction of the mosquitoes in the Public Health Act. Meanwhile, I hope you are protecting yourself from the effects of the chikungunya virus and you are part of the effort to eradicate this disease.{{more}}

I remember in my childhood days when we burned the leaves of the gliricidia sepium “rain tree” to smoke the mosquitoes out of our houses. Today, there is an electronic device, a swat in the form of a tennis racket to sizzle the mosquitoes. When it is waved into the air to make contact with mosquitoes it gives off a sizzling sound. Perhaps you can get one today or put your fan on high speed to fan them out of your house.

Chikungunya virus

The mosquito which transmits the chikungunya virus could be eradicated if we do the right thing. Malaria and yellow fever, in earlier times, wreaked havoc on our population. We can be free of the chikungunya if we rid ourselves of the aedes aegypti mosquitoes. When an infected mosquito bites, it injects the virus into your body. This causes your joints to hurt and raises body temperature to fever level. The mosquito is infected when it bites an infected person. If we step up our efforts, then we could avoid the pain and suffering. The time is ripe to take action.


The Public Health Act of 1977 provides for some protection against some unhealthy practices. It provides for a Public Health department with health officers who work in communities to maintain public health. When health officers visit your homes, do not turn them away, cooperate with them, the law approves of their visits. They might see a nuisance that you have overlooked.

Pursuant to Section 113 of the Public Health Act, breeding places of mosquitoes are regarded as nuisances. Accordingly (a) “all collections of water, sewage, rubbish, refuse or other fluid or solid substances which permit or facilitate the breeding or multiplication of animal or vegetable parasites of men or domestic animals or of insects or of other agents, which are known to carry such parasite…(b) any collection of water in any well, pool, gutter, channel, depression, excavation, barrel, tub, bucket or any other article, and found to contain any of the immature stages of the mosquito; and (c) any cesspit, latrine, urinal, dung-pit or ash pit found to contain any of the immature stages of the mosquito.” These are the nuisances that could cause your misery.

Communicable diseases

The Act gives a long list of notifiable communicable diseases. These are diseases that could be transmitted to humans by other human beings or insects. The Minister may, by order, declare other diseases as notifiable communicable diseases. Chikungunya has assumed such proportions that it must be of concern not only to the health authorities, but also to everyone.

The Act gives the Minister, on the advice of the Public Health Board, the power to make rules to prevent and abate conditions that encourage the breeding of mosquitoes and flies and for the prevention of insect-borne diseases.

Pursuant to Section 114(2), an occupier or owner of premises who keeps containers (whole or broken bottles) likely to retain water shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of 25 dollars.

Clean up campaign

I know you would do everything to have this virulent pest exterminated. Inaction will increase pain and suffering. The clean up campaign must be undertaken right now to destroy those annoying pests. Let us move quickly and make it our mission to eradicate these dangerous mosquitoes.

Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law.

E-mail address is: [email protected]