TECH 5 for April 18, 2014 – Mosquitoes Threaten Our Health

ben-harrisonGood afternoon and welcome to another Tech 5 program and a five minute trip into the amazing world of technology. This is Ben Harrison.

The Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), founded in 1902, is the oldest international public health organization in the world. It works with its member countries to improve the health and the quality of life of the people of the Americas, and it also serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization. Last week, PAHO warned that about 50 percent of people living in the Americas, including the Caribbean, are at risk of one or more diseases carried by insects. It stated that these insects include mosquitoes, ticks, flies and other vectors which carry diseases such as the West Nile virus, dengue, malaria and most recently chikungunya. Chick-un-gun-ya

In a “call to action” for World Health Day on April 7th , top health experts from North and South America and the Caribbean urged greater efforts by governments, communities and individuals to control the spread of these and other vector-borne diseases.

PAHO director Dr Carissa F. Etienne said “Our region has achieved many successes in controlling vector-borne diseases, however, this success is being threatened by the expansion of mosquitoes and other vectors into new habitats and by the emergence of insecticide and drug resistance”. PAHO and its partners are calling for “stepped-up” action in the fight against vector-borne diseases in the Americas.

Chikungunya, Chick-un-gun-ya is a mosquito-borne viral disease , carried mainly by mosquitoes and causes a dengue-like sickness. It first appeared in Tanzania in the 1950s and is the most recent vector-borne disease to establish itself in the Americas. In December of last year, two cases of locally acquired chikungunya were reported on the island of St Maarten health. Health authorities on both sides of the island of St. Martin were cooperating closely in response to the cases and have enhanced epidemiological surveillance, carried out measures to control mosquito breeding sites and are advising people on how to protect themselves.

There is currently no evidence of cases on the Dutch side of the island, or in other parts of the Caribbean. By the end of March 2014, more than 3,000 cases had been confirmed in 10 Caribbean countries and just last week, St. Lucia recorded its first case.

Ministry of Health epidemiologists in the, said, “We do not want to create any panic. It is because of our efforts with respect to strengthening the surveillance that we are now able to detect much more quickly, not only chikungunya but dengue, leptospirosis and some of the other diseases that have similar symptoms,”

Symptoms include a sudden high fever, severe pain in the wrists, ankles or knuckles, muscle pain, headache, nausea, and rash. Joint pain and stiffness are more common with chikungunya than with dengue. The symptoms appear between four to seven days after the bite of an infected mosquito. The majority of clinical signs and symptoms last three to 10 days, but joint pain may persist longer. Severe cases requiring hospitalization are rare. As of this date, there is no vaccine or treatment for chikungunya, which has infected millions of people in Africa and Asia since was first recorded in 1952.

While there were 81 laboratory-confirmed cases, more than 500 suspected cases are also being dealt with. The message with respect to controlling dengue fever it’s the same control measures Dengue virus is primarily transmitted by the Aedes mosquito. These mosquitoes usually live between the latitudes of 35° North and 35° South below an elevation of 3,300 ft. While they typically bite during the day, particularly in the early morning and in the evening,they are able to bite and spread infection at any time of day throughout the year.

Humans are the primary host of the virus,and an infection can be acquired via a single bite. A female mosquito that takes a blood meal from a person infected with dengue fever, during the initial 2–10 day febrile period, becomes itself infected with the virus. About 8–10 days later, the virus spreads to other tissues including the mosquito’s salivary glands and is subsequently released into its saliva. The virus seems to have no detrimental effect on the mosquito, which remains infected for life.It prefers to lay its eggs in artificial water containers, to live in close proximity to humans, and to feed on people rather than other vertebrates.

We all can help control the mosquito population, by emptying or covering any water-filled containers, including used tyres. Use insect repellant in moderation and wear long sleeved shirts and pants when working in areas where there are mosquitoes.