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Do something before chikungunya strikes

 I distinctly remember when I was a boy (in the 80s and early 90s), I would see the public health inspectors pass around with a foul-smelling insecticide that they would spray everywhere to kill mosquito larvae. 

As we all know, mosquitoes are vectors of many illnesses, including dengue, malaria, yellow fever and chikungunya. Recently, according to the Centre for Disease Control, quoting data from Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO), “As of June 27, 2014, local transmission had been identified in 22 countries or territories in the Caribbean, Central America, or South America. A total of 259,723 suspected and 4,721 laboratory-confirmed chikungunya cases had been reported from these areas”. 

There have been cases reported in Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, French Guiana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Haiti, Martinique, Puerto Rico, Saint Barts, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, Saint Martin, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Sint Maarten, Suriname, Turks and Caicos Islands, and US Virgin Islands. There is a great deal of communication between us and several of these countries, including Guyana. 

Cases of chikungunya have even been reported in the United States of America. 

Here in Trinidad and Tobago, since February, 2014, there have been public notices about the illness. But, what is the Insect Vector Control Division of the Ministry of Health doing? 

Here in St Joseph, we haven’t seen an inspector for a very long time: the last recorded visit by an inspector in my area vicinity at least was in January, 2007. By contrast, I understand that in Chaguanas, there is spraying almost weekly. What an imbalance! 

Maybe it’s because of the flat land versus the hills. Regardless, 2007 was a long time ago. Please Regional Health Authority, treat us like one country. 

Let’s not be traditional reactionary Trinbagonians this time because I get the distinct impression that we are just waiting for chikungunya to get here before we do something. 

 

Alan Cooper

St Joseph 

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