Check Up: Protecting yourself from mosquitoes
Mother of two, Michele, 30, writes from Papine, St Andrew. She asks if it is possible for her to really get rid of all the mosquitos in her yard, and if she does, how this would help her family if her neighbours were not also getting rid of their mosquitos! She wants to know more about the mosquito that has been causing so many problems recently. She had a bad dose of Chik V and hopes to avoid ZIKV if she can.
ZIKV, although spread by the same Aedes aegypti mosquito that transmits Chik V, is, for the most part, a mild disease for most people who contract it. The majority of infected people will not exhibit any signs, and when signs do occur, they cause mostly mild to moderate symptoms, which include fever, muscle and joint pains, headache, a rash, and at times, swollen legs.
What has made the disease more frightening recently are the reports coming out of Brazil of a high incidence of infected pregnant mothers giving birth to babies with very small heads (microcephaly), and also an increase in the incidence of infected adults contracting Guillen Barre Syndrome, a nervous disorder that can result in temporary or permanent paralysis.
The Aedes aegypti is the most common variety of mosquito in the world and is found in our hemisphere in all countries except for Chile and Canada. The lifespan of a female mosquito is three to 100 days, while the males live only 10 to 20 days. The female is the predator.
Mosquitos don't see very well and cannot see an object more than 30 feet away, but they are heat seeking in nature, using thermal receptors located on the tips of their antennae to locate blood running near the skin surface.
Mosquitos respond to higher-than-normal carbon dioxide concentrations in our environment, especially when this is mixed with the scent of the prey, and the Aedes mosquito bites throughout the day and night.
One female mosquito can lay up to 300 eggs at a time and up to 30,000 eggs during her lifetime.
However, it is true that we are all subject to the actions of our neighbours and to the sanitary, waste management, and gully-cleaning programmes that are in place in our communities.
Clearing the environment of stagnant water is the best solution to preventing the spread of ZIKV. There are several repellants in Jamaica. Bug-zappers will attract mosquitos but may not kill many. They also kill butterflies and moths, which pollinate flowers. Zappers can attract mosquitos without always killing them, so there may actually be a denser occurrence of mosquitos where the zappers are located.
Mosquitos also build up resistance to insect sprays and foggers in as little as six generations, which takes about two months to occur. Then they are back stronger than ever. The sprays and foggers are effective for three to five hours only, then the mosquitos return! Foggers and sprays kill everything from bugs to butterflies and earthworms. Ideally, pesticides should be a last choice.
Citronella candles and mosquito coils repel mosquitos to the extent that they are present over the body. If all areas are not covered by the repellant, the mosquitos can find those areas and bite.
Mosquito repellants can also be applied to the person or placed in the home environment to minimise bites, however, the best repellant protection is probably given with the application of DEET to all exposed skin surfaces every few hours.
Each person can only do his best to keep his own environment free of stagnant water.
PO BOX 1731,