At Start of Rainy Season
The hurricane season, also known as the rainy season, opened last Thursday which means that there is a serious danger of contracting dengue and zika. The diseases are carried by the aedes aegypti and the aedes albopictus mosquitoes so that conscious efforts have to be doubled to reduce breeding sites. The mosquitoes are active in the early morning and late afternoon. Today, News Five’s Duane Moody found out that long before the start of the season, the respective health regions have been on the beat with awareness campaigns. Here’s his report.
Duane Moody, Reporting
The Public Health Department has been working around the clock preparing for this hurricane season. Annually at the start of the rains, the mosquito population increases as does the number of cases of vector-borne diseases such as dengue, malaria and zika. While generally there is added focus around this time of the year, the education and awareness campaign of the department is all year round.
Mark Bernard, Senior Public Health Inspector, Central Region
“Prior to the month of June, we have been servicing the trucks for Belize City, San Pedro, Caye Caulker…the machines. We make sure that they are in good working conditions, they are flushed properly. We’ve collected the malati and have them stored properly, out of the sun and we make sure that we are ready to go as soon as the heavy rains start. We try to encourage residents to reduce the breeding sites for mosquitoes. You cannot eliminate mosquitoes of course, but the breeding sites that aedes aegypti mosquito; those are the containers that we are targeting.”
The Public Health Department partners annually with the City Council to ensure that across Belize City, drains are cleaned and trash, including water-holding containers such as tires, cans and drums, are removed from neighborhoods. This is in an effort to flush out breeding sites for the mosquitoes. Over the past two weekends, health inspectors organized a cleanup campaign.
Nadia Avila, Acting Supervisor, Vector Control Program, Central Region
“Over the past six months we have been doing interventions. Whenever we receive a suspected or a confirmed case of zika or dengue, we have our officers go out there and do what we call thermal fogging in majority of the homes and surrounding areas—or the area that is clinically diagnosed or confirmed with the disease. And we also do inspection. Health education plays an integral role. On Saturday and Sunday in the area we call zone four; that the Lake Independence Area, we focus on areas that had high incidents of fever cases coming from those areas. Along with the cleanup campaign, we had all our officers go in there and do a surveillance.”
But are residents adhering to the best practices to keep their yards clean of these breeding sites for mosquitoes?
“I believe a lot of people know, but actually translating that knowledge into practice…because that is what they don’t do. We know the mosquito can cause several disease; we know. But to actually put the practices…and so we partner with the schools also, the media like yourself; city council, village council because we are also responsible for Caye Caulker and San Pedro and the other communities in the Central Region. I can think of some hotspots that we usually have dengue transmission and that’s the Los Lagos area, Ladyville, Sand Hill, Lord’s Bank. We need to work closely with those areas also so that we get the message across and we make sure we reduce mosquito breeding sites.”