CARPHA Issues Warning Regarding Mosquito-Borne Diseases

(CMC) – The Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) says mosquito borne diseases continue to pose a serious public health threat to the Caribbean region and that there are more reports of dengue outbreaks with hospitalisations and deaths in some instances.

In addition, CARPHA said that it recently confirmed cases of Zika, and Chikungunya at its Medical Microbiology Laboratory, warning “these mosquito-borne diseases can have a major impact on our way of life and our vital tourist industry on which most of our islands depend”.

Interim executive director at CARPHA, Dr Lisa Indar said the region of the Americas has seen a 200 fold increase in suspected dengue cases in the first half of 2024, compared to the same period in 2023.

“Member states are encouraged to remain vigilant. It is crucial that surveillance, prevention and control measures are boosted to reduce the transmission of arboviruses in the Caribbean,” she added.

CARPHA said dengue is known to cause outbreaks every three to five years. The region has seen outbreaks of Chikungunya and Zika virus infections that challenged public health systems in virtually every country in the region.

“These viral infections are transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, a vector known to be endemic to the region. With the start of the hurricane season CARPHA is urging its member states to strengthen integrated vector management strategies in their communities. These include the elimination of mosquito breeding sites with the aim of reducing the number of mosquito larvae,” said Dr Horace Cox, Assistant Director of Surveillance, Disease Prevention and Control, and Head Vector Borne Diseases at CARPHA:.”

CARPHA said to counter the increase in mosquitoes and potential disease transmission, greater effort should be placed on mosquito control activities in communities, and these should be intensified.

CARPHA said it is urging member countries to review their preparedness and response plans, as well as to continue surveillance, early diagnosis, and timely care of arboviral disease cases, to prevent complications leading to hospitalisation and deaths.

“Community involvement is essential in the fight against mosquito-borne diseases. A proactive approach can help to reduce risk and keep communities safe,” said Rajesh Ragoo, CARPHA’s Senior Technical Officer for Vector-Borne Diseases.

CARPHA is urging people to check and remove standing water from around their homes as well as ensure that their surroundings are clean and free of materials or containers that can accumulate water around your homes and communities.

It urges the use of wire-mesh/screens on doors and windows also help in reducing the entry of mosquitoes into homes and that water storage drums and tanks must be properly covered and inspected periodically to ensure that there is no breeding. Roof gutters should also be cleaned to prevent water from pooling.

“The mosquitoes that spread dengue are active during the day. Personal preventative measures to minimise mosquito bites are also extremely important. Vulnerable groups such as infants, young children, older adults, and women who are pregnant, or trying to get pregnant, must be extra cautious,” CARPHA said, adding that confirmed cases of mosquito borne diseases should rest under mosquito nets.

CARPHA said it remains committed to supporting member states in their vector control efforts, including capacity building in integrated vector control strategies.