Commissioner of Health, Bruce Zagers, was given a presentation with regards to the breeding of mosquitos on the island by Medical Entomologist, Sandra Morena Reyes. Morena Reyes, who hails from Cuba has been on Saba for the past six months on a project with the Saba Reach Foundation to do research on a biological pesticide which can be introduced to potential mosquito breeding sites to eliminate eggs and larvae. The researcher has been working with staff of the Mosquito Control Department to determine effective ways to reduce the mosquito population on the island. Also present at the meeting was the new Head of the Public Health Department, Randall Johnson and Latoya Charles Director of Saba Reach Foundation.
The entomologist spent the first part of her time on the island identifying areas where the mosquitoes breed and identifying what species of mosquitos are found on the island. She was able to identify three types of mosquitoes which are responsible for transmitting diseases which are harmful to humans and one other that poses no health risks. These mosquitoes can carry dengue, yellow fever and Chikungunya, which was recently identified in the region. It should be noted that to date no one on Saba has been diagnosed with Chikungunya.
As part of her research Morena Reyes was able to identify that the main problem that contributes to the breeding of mosquitoes on Saba are uncovered receptacles such as buckets, barrels and drums. Even though residents have been advised against leaving containers uncovered, the practice still continues. The mosquito control specialist emphasized that this behavior must stop in order for other measures to be more effective. She also mentioned that she will be presenting her report to the public on Friday the 7th of February at the Eugenius Johnson Center at 6:00PM, so that everyone can understand their role helping to eliminate mosquitoes from the island.
Introducing Bactivec, which is a product produced by her company, Labiofam, in Cuba is another recommendation that was part of her report. Bactivec is a liquid formulated, organic insecticide, whose active ingredient, Bacillus thuringiensis, is harmless to humans, plants and animals. The product is used in many tropical areas including countries in Africa and South America. Several islands in the Caribbean such as Trinidad, Jamaica and Antigua have also used the product. It has proven to be very effective against mosquitoes in these countries and also here on Saba during the short testing period.
Bactivec, which is dispensed to households, with instructions on its use, is one way of involving the community in combatting mosquitoes. The insecticide which comes is 30 ml bottles, does not need much to be effective, one drop in a five gallon bucket is all that is needed to eliminate any larvae that may be there. The product can also be used in ponds and animal troughs.
Charles whose organization, Saba Reach Foundation, funded and facilitated the work of the entomologist said the organization got involved because of the extensive contact it has had with Cuba and the use of organic pesticides was in line with work the foundation does at the Organopics farm.
Commissioner Zagers said that he was pleased with the work of the Cuban specialist and encouraged the community to do their part to eradicate mosquitoes. “Preventing the spread of mosquito borne diseases should be an island wide priority and encouraged the population to cooperate by keeping their surroundings clear of any possible breeding sites”, the Commissioner concluded.
Press release GIS Saba, February 6, 2014