Zika Virus Disease

Dengue Fever, Chikungunya and Zika virus infection are all spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. This mosquito vector has a high preference for breeding in habitats in close proximity to where humans are active; particularly their homes and workplaces. They usually breed in man-made containers such as tires, trash bins, buckets, water tanks, pails, uncovered barrels, jars and flower pots.

The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has confirmed the presence of Zika Virus Disease in a number of Caribbean islands and cases have been recorded as close as Martinique and Barbados. Although there has been no confirmed case of the Zika virus on island, strengthening of mosquito surveillance activities are key. This development is of major concern to St Lucia as we only need one infected person to travel to St-Lucia to start an epidemic.

Zika Virus Disease is a viral illness which is similar in presentation to Dengue fever and Chikungunya.  All three diseases are transmitted by mosquitoes of the Aedes species, predominantly Aedes aegypti in St. Lucia. Generally, Zika is generally a mild disease. The measures to address Zika Virus Disease are generally similar to approaches for Dengue and Chikungunya: decreasing the number of mosquitoes and preventing them from biting persons.

 

Enviromental Health Strategies 

At present the Department of Environmental Health Vector Control Unit carries out a number of activities in an attempt to control the mosquito and rodent population on the island.  Activities include entomological surveillance which refers to the inspection of premises by Environemental Health Officers.  This Surveillance is a combination of:

  1. Identify potential and active mosquito breeding sites and sites.

  2. Treatment of containers found to be breeding mosquitoes.

  3. Promote awareness and engage community utilization education to householders on the control of vectors within their communities.

The Department of Environmental Health also performs fogging operations. This strategy targets the adult mosquito. It does not prevent the breeding of mosquitoes. Therefore it is a less effective strategy for permanent mosquito population control. 

Zika Guidelines for travellers coming to the Caribbean

FAQ on Zika Virus Disease 

 

How is a Household Inspection Done?

The best way to control mosquitoes around your home is simple, inexpensive and safe for the ebvironment.  In recent years a number of persons have the view of insectides as being the best and the most convenient solution for mosquito control.  However, due to its toxic effects, insecticides can be poisonous, may cause injury or even kill humans and non-target animal according to exposure levels and times.

Mosquitoes are controlled most efficiently with a method called “source reduction”. Source reduction can be defined as practices to reduce or permanently eliminate breeding grounds for the Aedes aegypti mosquito. This approach is aimed at primarily prevent the development of aquatic stages of mosquito breeding sites. By identifying aquatic breeding sites and reducing the potential for it becoming a breeding ground for adult mosquitoes, reducing the possibility for diseases spreading in a community and by extension, a country. At least once weekly, any item capable of holding water should be poured out, cleaned and properly stored.

The best place to begin source reduction is on your immediate premise. To ensure that you are not contributing to the mosquito population in your community, take a walk around your yard to identify and eliminate breeding grounds. In as little as a week, mosquitoes can produce in water containers around the home. As a property holder you have access to all potential breeding sites in and around your home.

Mosquito breeding sites are more common than you may think. Pay attention to your surroundings like drums, buckets, roof gutters, tires, flower vases and pots, discarded containers, old appliances and pet dishes. Source reduction works best when done over a large area like a community or country so it is important to encourage neigbours and mobilize community members to do the same. This should be checked routinely to prevent mosquito breeding as NO water sources means NO mosquitoes. NO mosquitoes mean NO diseases.

It is imperative that you protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites when they are most active.  To limit exposure to mosquito bites wear the recommended clothing, screen windows and doors, use repellents.

This video demonstrates how to conducts inspections on your property. What to look for as well as the corrective actions, natural and non-toxic methods to mosquito control. The homeowner is taught the process by Ministry Officials and she also includes her children to ensure that they are also aware of the potential breeding sites.

Environmental Health Treatment of Mosquitoes

 

Public Service Announcement for Disease Control

Zika PSA

Zika Creole 

How to make a drum cover

Zika Animated Infographic 

 

For more information on the Zika Virus, please call the Bureau of Health Education at telephone number 758 468 5349.

Ministry Officials

  • Sen. Hon. Mary Isaac / Minister
  • Cyprian Felix St. Hill / Permanent Secretary
  • Verena Claudia Calderon / Deputy Permanent Secretary