Programme to control mosquitoes

Monday April 15, 2019 Written by Published in Health

The Ministry for Health has secured a vector control expert to assist the Cook Islands in controlling dengue spreading mosquitoes.

 

Community Health Services director Dr Tereapii Uka said the ministry was now negotiating in a broader sustainable vector control strategy that has been made available to four Pacific Islands.

Dr Uka said though the Cook Islands was not included in the World Mosquito Programme yet, they continue to have ongoing discussions.

According to the World Mosquito Programme (WMP), they are a not-for-profit initiative that works to protect the global community from mosquito-borne diseases such as Zika, dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever.

An innovation of the programme is the wolbachia method and they say this is a safe, natural and effective way to combat the threat of these mosquito-borne diseases.

WMP’s first project site was in northern Australia in 2011 and has expanded to an international not-for-profit initiative operating in 12 countries.

The programme has expanded to Fiji, Vanuatu and Kiribati and recently New Caledonia.

Dr Uka said the programme is a biological control that is used by releasing the wolbachia carrying mosquitoes into a community.

WMP says wolbachia are safe, natural bacteria found in up to 60 per cent of all insect species and once these wolbachia carrying mosquitoes breed with local mosquitoes, they pass the bacteria to their offspring. Over time, these wolbachia carrying mosquitoes help to block the transmission of mosquito-borne diseases.

“What they do is bring a species of mosquito that infects the female aedes mosquito that will stop the female mosquito from breeding. It’s a biological control,” Dr Uka said.

While the ministry continues its ongoing talks, the Community Health Department continues daily mosquito larvae surveillance and monitoring programmes on Rarotonga and Aitutaki where data is received from their surveillance to identify dengue breeding sites.

“The data we receive from the surveillance will help us identify the way forward to help us to better control these dengue mosquitoes. The vector control is the main strategy at the moment and the that biological control is what we want to bring.

“But monitoring and surveillance is done every day, that’s the only way for us to get data. We a good team that is out every morning and afternoon, monitoring 24/7.”

The public is reminded to keep their home and work environment clean by safely disposing of water-retaining containers, avoiding mosquito bites by using mosquito bed nets and repellents, screen homes and see a doctor if you develop symptoms such as fever, headache, pain behind the eyes, or muscle aches.       

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