An explosion of mosquitoes was felt everywhere on Friday evening and the rest of the weekend. Somehow, the mosquitoes felt more aggressive and seemed to be more intense. So today, we caught up with the Head of the Vector Control Unit at the Ministry of Health, Kim Bautista who says that there are two species of mosquitoes that have increased population along the coast of Belize and Mexico. These mosquitoes laid their eggs during the drought and the recent rains provided a breeding ground causing them to multiply. Bautista goes into details.

Kim Bautista, Head, Vector Control Unit, Ministry of Health

“With the intense heat that we had and that dry spell, it is a natural response for mosquitoes to try and lay as much eggs as possible. So what you have around this time of the year is that you would have certain mosquito species that aren’t really laying eggs in containers that are around the yard. You have mosquito species such as the sorophara ciliate, which are those big black ones that the public is seeing in the coastal areas. And there is also another species that tends to be in brackish to salt water type environments, aedes tenerencus and those tend to lay eggs indiscriminately—in grasses, shrubs. And so when you get your first rains or tides that are higher than usual, that process starts with the development and then you get a sudden explosion in the population, which is what we saw in places like Caye Caulker, San Pedro, Belize City, Corozal—those coastal areas. The similar reports we are receiving from Mexico as well. So those species aren’t really vectors of any mosquito-borne diseases, but because of their aggressive biting habits, they are a nuisance. And it is not only biting during early dawn or late evenings, after sunset, you get biting throughout the day and of course it intensifies between six and seven.”

Relief on the Way; Spraying for Mosquitoes Commences

But there is soon to be some relief because starting today, spraying by the vector control unit began across the country.

Kim Bautista, Head, Vector Control Unit, Ministry of Health

“Spraying will commence today; this evening. In some areas like Corozal and Orange Walk, we never stopped spraying; I think we have been spraying constantly almost for eighteen months or so in the north, simply because of the dengue situation that we were seeing. But the spraying will occur starting this afternoon in areas such as Corozal, Orange Walk, Belize and Cayo. The anticipation is that after a couple sprays, we should see some significant relief and those activities will be intensified in the coming weeks once the rest of our supplies start being delivered in our country.”

Bautista says that they are also awaiting supplies, including malathion pesticide, which are to arrive on July sixth.

Nuisance Mosquitoes Are Not Disease-Borne Vectors

These mosquitoes are not to be confused with the aedes aegypti mosquito, which is the vector for dengue or Chikungunya. Head of Vector Control Unit, Kim Bautista says that the statistics for 2020 shows that the cases of dengue in Belize are down drastically when compared to 2019.

Kim Bautista, Head, Vector Control Unit, Ministry of Health

Last year, we had the highest record number of dengue in the region, including Belize. But what we are seeing at the start of this year, we did see some elevated numbers. But we were running the figures this evening and when we were looking at a period of the past eleven weeks, for the past eleven weeks, we have seen a decline. For 2020, over the past eleven weeks, we’ve recorded one hundred and two cases of dengue countrywide. For that same reporting period for 2019, we have three hundred and thirty-one cases so we are not really seeing that amount of dengue cases over the past couple months. That could change as the rainy season starts now, but the public shouldn’t be alarmed that with the increase in nuisance mosquitoes that we are seeing that it will translate to an increase in dengue cases.”

Channel 5