Published On: Wed, Apr 25th, 2018

Researchers study mosquito population

Naturalis Mosquito Vector study

PHILIPSBURG – A research team from the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden is in St. Maarten to conduct a study into the island’s mosquito-population. “The objective is to identify the number of various mosquito-species,” Minister Emil Lee (Public Health) sad during Wednesday’s Council of Ministers press briefing.

Specific diseases are carried by specific species, the minister said. “Understanding which mosquitoes are on the island gives us a better idea in terms of the diseases the population is at risk for.”

Minister Lee met with the Naturalis-team – consisting of students and supervisors. “That was also an opportunity to talk about mitigation strategies,” he said.

The distance mosquitoes travel from their breeding sites is limited, the minister said. “Mosquitoes in Guana Bay are not traveling to Cole Bay or St. Peters. If we do a good job of regulating breeding sites and controlling the mosquito population in our neighborhoods we shall see the results in terms of quality of life.”

Minister Lee also highlighted the vector control and awareness program of the Collective Preventive Services (CPS). Under the theme “If you clean it up we will pick it up” the department goes together with VROMI into the neighborhoods in May to collect debris that is material to breeding sites.

“Post-Irma there is still a lot of debris on the island and it is an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes,” the minister said.

CPS has trained fifteen unemployed people as vector control inspectors. In April the inspectors visited 3,006 premises and they got access to 953 homes.

“They found that one in seven households was positive for mosquito larvae,” Lee said. “That is 14 percent; according to the World Health Organization the standard is 2 percent. We have a high risk in terms of the mosquito population.”

The If you clean it up we will pick it up-campaign kicks of in the first week of May in the districts Sucker Garden, Middle Region, Dutch Quarter, Belvedere, Mount William, Defiance and Bishop Hill. The first pick-up date is Tuesday May 8.

People in these districts should make sure to put their debris that day by the side of the road by 7 a.m. Vromi will organize transport to take the debris away. The debris could include old refrigerators and sofas, minister Lee said: “Whatever you can get on the side of the road.”

Giving Vromi access to properties is optional; but in that case somebody should be present.

In the second week of May, the campaign tackles Oyster pond, Dawn Beach, Tamarind Hill, Guana Bay, Over the Hill and Illidge Road.

In the third week the action covers Philipsburg, Over the Bank, Hope Estate, Cay Hill and Belair.

After that the campaign continues through various other districts. The pick-up dates for the second and third week have still to be determined.