St. Maarten public urged to step up measures to mitigate mosquito population


PHILIPSBURG--Residents are being urged to “step-up” measures at their homes and around their businesses to mitigate the rise in dengue fever caused by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, especially after the recent spate of rainfall.

The Health Ministry’s Section General Health Care (SGHC) made the appeal in a press release on Monday.

SGHC said landowners and persons with small plots of land in and around built-up areas should also maintain their property by minimising overgrown vegetation.

Minister of Public Health Cornelius de Weever’s “Get Checked” campaign is in line with the urgent appeal for residents and business owners to check in and around their homes and businesses to reduce breeding sites of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, making them mosquito-free zones, it was stated in a press release.

The main measure is for households and businesses to take action by removing potential mosquito breeding spots on a daily basis. Elimi- nation of mosquitoes is an individual responsibility as well as a community responsibility, it was stated in the release.

SGHC said residents should, on a daily basis, check containers such as buckets and water tanks for larvae and eliminate the breeding source. Water tanks should be prop- erly secured and screened to prevent mosquitoes from entering. “If there aren’t any containers with water for mosquitoes to lay the larvae, there won’t be any adult mosquitoes,” it was stated in the release.

“Even after you have cleaned up your yard and surroundings, it is recommended for persons to clean around their surroundings on a weekly basis and after every rain event, eliminate all possible breeding sites.

“Mobilise family, friends, neighbours and colleagues to collectively take actions to eliminate mosquito breeding sources. Homeowners can reduce the number of areas where adult mosquitoes can find shelter by cutting down weeds adjacent to the house foundation and in their yards, and mowing the lawn regularly. On a daily basis, check plants in your yard for mosquito breeding sites, keep vegetation properly trim and avoid overgrown vegetation.

“Check around construction sites or do-it-yourself improvements to ensure that proper backfilling and grading is realised to prevent drainage problems, which can be a source for standing water. “When out during dusk and dawn hours, use mosquito repellent or wear proper clothing to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.”

Dengue fever is transmit- ted by the female vector Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is distinguished by its markings. The body of the mosquito has alternate black and white horizontal stripes. The Aedes aegypti mosquito lays her eggs in clear (clean) stagnant water. Within eight days, the mosquito can com- plete its life cycle from egg, to larvae, to pupae and to adult mosquito.

Dengue symptoms include high fever, severe headache, backache, joint and eye pain, nausea, vomiting and rash. Once a person has developed a fever, the infectious period lasts for about a week. Most people recover without any complications, using pain re- lievers, liquid intake (preferably water or juice) and bed rest. Persons should avoid self-medication.

Residents with dengue fever symptoms should consult with their family physician who can then refer them to the lab for a laboratory test that would confirm if they have dengue or not, and to give the proper advice to ensure a healthy recovery avoiding other health risks.

SGHC said an increase in the mosquito population puts all residents and busi- nesses at risk. Additional information on the Aedes aegypti mosquito breeding sites and respective preventive measures can be obtained by calling tel. 542- 2078 or 542-3003 or emailing surveillance@sintmaarten- .

Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten