Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan has denied an outbreak of dengue in central Trinidad, but up to yesterday Chaguanas Mayor Orlando Nagessar was insisting that data provided by health professionals shows otherwise.
Nagessar last Tuesday claimed that for 2012, health centres confirmed at least 216 cases of dengue in and around Chaguanas.
Chaguanas reported the most instances, he said, with 156 and Cunupia/Enterprise with 53 cases.
Other areas with reported cases were St Helena and Las Lomas, both large districts with a number of communities.
"We are going by the statistics given to us by professionals," Nagessar said, adding that he has visited some of the recovering victims. "We feel those numbers are cause for concern."
Khan said yesterday there was no outbreak.
The Sunday Express last Friday visited some areas where dengue was said to be on the rise.
At Lange Park, resident Rawlins Latchu said he was confirmed with dengue two weeks ago and has been confined to his home since then.
Latchu said it was unclear where he was infected but he was aware of several other cases in his vicinity.
After falling ill with a fever, Latchu said he took Panadol tablets and tried to carry on as usual.
When the fever persisted, he visited a doctor and was told he had an infection.
Two days later, he collapsed and was taken to another doctor, who confirmed dengue, Latchu said.
"I consider myself lucky," Latchu, a retired public servant, said at his Lange Park home.
"But dengue is definitely in this area."
After notifying the Chaguanas Borough Council (CBC), Latchu said the area was sprayed with Malathion, an insecticide used by the Insect Vector Control Unit.
"I am very pleased with the response from the Corporation," Latchu, 77, said. "Citizens have to be alert and notify the authorities so that they can act."
Mayor Nagessar confirmed that the CBC has embarked on a consistent spraying exercise but said he believed the insects have become somewhat immune to Malathion.
The spraying will continue, however, until an alternative is found.
In addition to vans mounted with Dynafog spraying machines which move through neighbourhoods, Nagessar said individuals carrying spray will be visiting homes and possible breeding grounds.
Nagessar said the mobile sprays do not reach water receptacles that serve as breeding grounds, such as small bottles left around a yard, and individuals with spray packs will target these areas.
District Medical Officer of Health, Dr Venkataramana Balisetty, said the biggest part of the fight against dengue must be waged by citizens.
"Our drive is 'public contribution is public health'," Balisetty said.
"This is to impress upon the people that without their help, we will fail against dengue. This means making every effort to keep your properties free of anything that can trap water.
"We also find that many people still do not know the difference between the Aedes Aegypti, the dengue carrier, and other mosquitoes, so public education is also our focus right now."
Balisetty said there were many breeding grounds that were overlooked, such as water retention in the leaves of plants and trees and vases with plants.
"While it is important to keep drains and waterways clean anyway, it is unlikely that they will breed there, as they prefer clear water," Balisetty said.
In the meantime, people in areas such as Longdenville and Cunupia are scared.
While no deaths have been recorded in Central for the year, one Longdenville resident claims to know of two victims.
The man, who did not want to be identified, said, "To me it is clear that they died from dengue," he said.
"I think the authorities want to keep it quiet because they are failing at controlling the problem."
Another resident, Carl Dhookoo, blamed people living in the area.
"People too nasty," he said. "And slack. They know about dengue and know the mosquito breeding in all the old tyres and old container in their yards but they would not make the effort to clean it. The government supposed to come and clean your yard for you?"
In Cunupia, most of the residents who spoke to the Sunday Express were also fearful.
"I would say yes, we are very afraid. Some of us are making more of an effort to keep our premises clean. I use a lot of citronella oil around the house to keep mosquitos away. But Cunupia is very big and it will be hard to control in areas like this," said one businesswoman.