Understanding the Law
September 19, 2014
The chikungunya disease – Part 2

I am not given to rumours, but the latest one that is circulating is that everyone would eventually get the chikungunya disease. This is a defeatist remark and no one should give credence to it. I know that people are overwhelmed by the spread of the disease, but to indulge in those thoughts would suggest that we, as a people, are unable to eradicate these vicious creatures. This is a pessimistic approach and we are not a fatalistic people to accept defeat without a struggle. Do you think you have worked hard enough to eradicate the mosquitoes? Is there anything else that can be done?{{more}}

Since the disease is still spreading, it means that the infected mosquitoes are still around and are roving the land unrestrained. It means that the breeding grounds are still active and we are still harbouring them with our inaction. Now the job is not over until every breeding place or hiding place is destroyed. Maybe the message is not reaching everyone. The disease is of that proportion that requires the message to be taken everywhere, even if the health authorities have to use loudspeakers to go into every village. We have to alert people to the danger of this mosquito incursion.

From my experience, the mosquito likes to bite our arms and legs, the exposed parts of our bodies. It is true that we do not know when they would pounce, but appropriate clothes, long sleeve tops and long trousers should offer sufficient protection.

Over the last two weeks, I have warned you about the penalties for littering under the Litter Act and that of encouraging mosquitoes under the Public Health Act. A public health officer who finds a nuisance on your property could instruct you to abate the nuisance and if you do not do so you could be taken before a magistrate to answer the charges.

I do not believe that at this point in time that anyone has a receptacle around the home where mosquitoes can breed. Perhaps attention should be given to cesspits or pit latrines, public drains and any dark structure where they could hide or breed. Pursuant to Section 117 of the Public Health Act, “the occupier or owner of premises upon or attached to which is any cesspit shall cause such cesspit to be properly protected or screened to the satisfaction of a health officer so as to prevent the ingress of mosquitoes into the same and in default he shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding twenty-five dollars, and to a further fine not exceeding five dollars for each day during which he continues to default after notice received from the health authority of his district to comply with the provisions of this section.”

Mosquito larvae must not be found on your property for any reason; the mere presence is an offence. Section 120 states that the owner or occupier of any house or premises or the owner or person having the charge of any vessel, timber cask or other article, in or about which there is any collection of water found by a health officer to contain any of the immature stages of the mosquito shall be guilty of an offence and liable in respect of each and every collection of water to a fine not exceeding twenty-five dollars.

So, do not give mosquitoes a safe haven in our country. Let us redouble our effort to destroy this virulent pest.

New Law year

The new law term was recognized on Wednesday, September 17, 2014 in its usual ceremonial grandeur, with the Chief Justice Dame Janice Pereira delivering an account of the status of the court.

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

E-mail address is: [email protected]