MRCU leads charge to keep Cayman Zika free

| 04/03/2016 | 16 Comments
Cayman News Service

MRCU staff spraying to kill mosquitoes

(CNS): The director of the Mosquito Research and Control Unit (MRCU) said that his department’s contingency plan for the possible arrival of the Zika virus to the Cayman Islands is underway as staff work on the ground in yards across the island. There are still no reported cases of Zika here but with more than 40 countries in the region reporting outbreaks, its arrival is increasingly likely.

The MRCU is focusing efforts to prevent the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which spreads the virus, from breeding by going on the offensive against standing water in pots and containers in residential areas.

MRCU Director Dr William Petrie said, “Weather conditions have required the department to alter the plan somewhat but we have taken the opportunity to survey and monitor the populations of the Aedes aegypti, and we have, over the past three weeks, surveyed a significant amount of yards from West Bay to George Town and are continuing east into the Bodden Town district.”

Petrie urged the public to turn over any containers around their properties that may hold water as these are the main breeding grounds for the troublesome mosquito.

Meanwhile, the acting medical officer of health, Dr Samuel Williams-Rodriguez, said the Public Health Department and other local stakeholders remain steadfast in their efforts to ensure continued education and rapid containment should the virus be introduced.

“While there are no confirmed cases of the Zika virus in the Cayman Islands, the virus continues to expand. There are 41 countries, including 31 in South and Central America and the Caribbean, reporting active Zika virus transmission. These constitute locally-acquired cases reported within the last nine months,” he said.

An updated travel advice for pregnant women is currently in effect. Pregnant women are advised to postpone non-essential travel to areas where there is active Zika virus transmission.

“If travel is highly essential and cannot be postponed, pregnant women should be aware of the possible associated risks with the Zika virus,” said Dr Williams-Rodriguez. “Women who are pregnant should discuss travel plans with their healthcare provider to assess the risk of infection with ZIK-V and receive advice on protection from being bitten by the Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that carries the virus.”

Pregnant women are believed to be the most at risk from the virus as scientists believe here is a link with the virus and microcephaly in newborn babies.

Zika symptoms are very similar to those of dengue and chikungunya and include fever, muscle and joint pain, conjunctivitis (pink eye), headache, nausea, and rash. There is no vaccine or treatment; however, symptoms if there are any, last around a week and are treatable with fluids and pain relievers such as Paracetamol. The incubation period is three to 12 days after the bite of an infected mosquito with complications requiring hospitalisation rare.  A number of cases of sexual transmission of Zika virus have been reported, and in a limited number of cases, the virus has been shown to be present in semen. The risk of sexual transmission of Zika virus is thought to be very low.

For more information contact the Public Health Department on 244-2621 or the Mosquito Research and Control Unit (MRCU) on 949-2557. 

CARPHA poster – places in your yard where mosquitoes breed

Zika virus fact sheet 1

Zika virus fact sheet 2

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Category: Health, health and safety

Comments (16)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    A little off and a joint should run the mosquitos away??

  2. Anonymous says:

    In Brazil, microcephaly, in which babies are born with unusually small heads, is said to have surged from an average of about 150 cases annually to more than 4,300 cases since October 2015. Of these, fewer than 500 cases have been confirmed, and the Zika virus has only been identified in 41.22 Meanwhile, in the U.S. approximately 25,000 infants are diagnosed with microcephaly each year — without Zika.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I am just back from Brazil and they are taking it very seriously there.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Congrats to MRCU on their long-standing and continuous mosquito control program. However, is it possible to know what specific insecticide(s) they’re using? A recent report from media in Florida indicated that a popular insecticide, Permethrin, has proven ineffective against Aedes Aegypti. We know that is the most prevalent species found in Cayman and the main carrier of Zika virus. Can MRCU say what effective measures and chemicals are being used?

    • Anonymous says:

      Why not go to their website where they list all the EPA Material Fact Sheets? Contrary to opinions like these, they’ve been very open about their operations for years.

    • Anonymous says:

      Aerial Spraying of Neonicotinoids Also Causes Skeletal Malformations.

      The list of pesticides that have the potential to disrupt fetal development is long. Yet another suspect is Imidacloprid, a neonicotinoid. In October 2012—around the same time that these women would have been getting pregnant–Brazil lifted its ban on aerial spraying of neonicotinoids. In30 2001, it was reported that Imidacloprid fed to pregnant rats and rabbits in “maternally toxic” doses caused skeletal malformation in a small percentage of fetuses.

      In December 2013, the U.K. Daily Mail also reported that neonicotinoids were suspected of causing developmental problems in babies and children. Another 2013 study34 showed adverse events with embryo development and neonicotinoids. Perhaps it’s not any single one of these pesticides that is to blame. Perhaps the rise in microcephaly cases is the result of exposure to a terrible mixture of toxic pesticides before or during pregnancy?

  5. Anonymous says:

    I really hope they do since we don’t need any more small minded people around here. If that has any correlation with a small head please chime in.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I notice that when the plane sprays the mosquitos – there are less house flies flying around. As soon as they stop spraying – the house flies return. Therefore, it seems like they are controlling those as well as the mosquitos.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Build the damn wall!

  8. Mo. Squito says:

    Good, ’cause I still getting over the chikungunya, ebola, swine flu and mad cow diseases that they promised we would all get.

    • Anonymous says:


    • Anonymous says:

      As reported by The New York Times:

      “Of the cases examined so far, 404 have been confirmed as having microcephaly. Only 17 of them tested positive for the Zika virus…
      Another 709 babies have been ruled out as having microcephaly … underscoring the risks of false positives making the epidemic appear larger than it actually is. The remaining 3,670 cases are still being investigated.”

      As noted by The New York Times, there’s actually very little scientific evidence tying the Zika virus to this particular condition.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Would be grateful if MRCU could confirm whether or not Oxitec is setting up in MRCU’s own facilities to carry out another release and study of the genetically modified Aedes aegypti mosquitoes without letting the general public know……see Compass Classifieds C1 Friday 12 February 2016.

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