Concerns grow over mosquito control

| 05/07/2019 | 83 Comments
Cayman News Service
MRCU spray plane

(CNS): From the impact on the bee population to pellets contaminating water cisterns, a growing number of people in Cayman are raising the alarm about the current policies of the ministry responsible for the Mosquito Research and Control Unit. While Cayman has always battled the various native and invasive mosquitoes through different means, at present there are concerns that dangerous chemicals are being used in some areas and nothing at all in others, in what appears to be a more erratic management effort and a failure of customer service, despite claims to the contrary.

CNS posed a number of questions directly to the MRCU early last month and we are still awaiting answers on several of the queries. We have been unable to confirm reports that a former Oxitec manager/technician had been employed directly by MRCU, despite the government pulling out of the deal with the bio-engineering firm to use its genetically modified Aedes aegypti and without an external recruitment process.

We asked if the MRCU is now using chlorpyrifos to combat mosquitoes, given that there are concerns about this chemical’s link to brain damage in children. CNS also asked about other changes in the MRCU’s larvicide and other insecticide products and queried why it had changed suppliers and was recently left with an empty cupboard.

Most of these queries have remained unanswered. However, MRCU Director Dr Jim McNelly has indicated that the ministry is preparing a statement to address the queries. But McNelly did answer queries about the impact on bees, given the heightened concern the world over that these critical insects are being killed in huge numbers by pesticides.

He said that in the best-case scenario, fogging or spraying should happen only after sunset or early in the morning before sunrise, when bees are not active, though at times there are requests from the public for spraying. But he said the unit is trying to ensure that spraying requests relate to a mosquito problem, as opposed to some other insect.

“Sometimes a request will be made to spray at a time during the day when efficiency will be compromised by poor conditions and the mosquitoes are not active,” he said. “We cannot meet these requests when contending with nuisance mosquitoes. In an active disease scenario, we might consider other options. Spraying a space is always the last tool to be used in a professional, integrated mosquito management programme,” McNelly added.

More recently, readers contacted CNS about thousands of tiny pellets being dumped on their properties as the MRCU plane flew overhead and their concerns that this larvicide is getting into their water system, as well as the poor customer service they received, especially from the ministry, about their concerns.

One reader told us that the first time that it has ever happened was in March, though the MRCU has been spraying nearby for many years. After calling to complain, the homeowner was reassured it would not happened again but it has on several more occasions, including this week after the property, and in particular the water system, had been cleaned from previous impacts. The reader told CNS that she is not reassured by the MRCU’s claims the pellets are safe to humans.

“I fully understand that MRCU has larger scale objectives and does this in the interest of the general population but given the ‘kamikaze’ flying that we see …I’m sure they are capable of deploying their pellets more accurately so as not to bombard people’s homes and yards,” she said.

Earlier this week the ministry issued a press release about what it said were enhancements to the mosquito management programme in Cayman Brac and Little Cayman to bring things in line with operations in Grand Cayman and scientific best practice.

Dwayne Seymour, the minister responsible for the MRCU, said it was moving away from acting on ad hoc spray requests towards a sustained approach of surveillance-based control. Officials are now using surveillance techniques, which include bite counts and portable and baited traps, which have been used regularly in Grand Cayman. This is to determine whether mosquitoes are present and to target mosquito populations.

In addition to the chemicals, MRCU uses water management and control of the aquatic stages of mosquito development. When truck or aerial spraying is required to suppress biting, the MRCU has pledged to continue its environmental commitment to avoid disturbing local bee populations, it said. However, CNS readers are reporting large numbers of dead bees across Grand Cayman, calling into question this alleged environmental commitment.

The ministry further claimed that the MRCU had made “substantial investments in order to standardise equipment used across the islands and to improve operations”.

As well as new surveillance traps, the MRCU has taken a forklift, trailer and $90,000 loader truck to the Brac to facilitate loading spray planes. Three full time disease prevention officers have also been hired and Kemarley Maxam, a 22-year-old Caymanian, has been deployed in Little Cayman. He is the MRCU’s first full time disease prevention officer on that island.

Ministry officials said that on Grand Cayman, MRCU’s increased ground control measures successfully contended with a mosquito outbreak over the past two weeks. An aerial spraying operation last month using a “recently procured chemical” (which was not identified) targetting adult mosquitoes was used across almost 7,000 acres in the Frank Sound/North Side area, where there had been a recent significant increase in the population.

The release also expressed the hope that the public is experiencing less mosquito discomfort.

For requests for service call 949-2557 or through the MRCU website.

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Category: Health, health and safety

Comments (83)

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  1. El loco says:

    If you control mosquitoes, people complain about the plane flying low, throwing pellets, if you do not control mosquitoes, people complain that there are too many mosquitoes,what the hell is wrong with them.

  2. Anonymous says:

    MRCU came into our garden and sprayed our plants, including herbs and fruit trees, without informing us, during the zika scare. Luckily I was home and saw it but could not stop the guy spraying .. when I complained and asked whether the herbs and fruit were ok to consume, I was met with a wall of silence. I finally replaced all the plants .. no compensation from them, of course.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    I heard they so big up Lower Valley way they picked up some guys dog and took her away.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    And when the first serious dengue outbreak occurs the tourism industry in these islands will die. Consider this – if dengue is ever identified as a problem you can forget about cruise ships docking here.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Again, all about cruise ships? How about people who live here?

      According to you, to avoid dengue outbreak you need to poison to death every living creature? People don’t drop dead as bees and other insects, it would take time for poisons to accumulate in one’s body to make them sick. It would happen with children and elderly faster.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    Whatever they are spraying, they are spraying it on us, and that gives us the absolute right to know every little detail of their operation. I can see the lawyers rubbing their hands now, especially over the reports that some people were feeling ill after spraying had occurred. If they refuse, this is why the UK is mummy and the courts there for our use. All this secret squirrel stuff is real third world banana republic work. The sad part is, you know whatever they are doing is not good for us, otherwise they would be telling us exactly whats going on. It does not take a genius to work that out.

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  6. A Banana Cooperation says:

    And then I read this part:

    ‘Dwayne Seymour, the minister responsible for the MRCU,’

    There’s your new player. And he’s not very experienced or even tries to make an experienced effort and research and local consulting, following up and more research and going on sites etc etc etc – do this Dwayne to help with your charges, but nope, not Dwayne. Same old thing, monkey see, monkey do and that’s apparently nothing worthwhile except failing responsibilities until the next election, rinse and repeat.

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    • Anonymous says:

      He’s too busy making ridiculous ‘jokes’ at the expense of gay people. And getting away with it too.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Fair enough but lets not pick on just Mr Ebanks. Which MLA is running their portfolio successfully or is educated enough to have a clue what they are doing….Education? Planning?

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  7. Anonymous says:

    Don’t tell the tourists they are swimming in a runoff of xylene, naphthalene and ethylbenzene lol

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    • Anonymous says:

      Just tourists? What about The Dump’s run offs?
      No wonder beach water is not tested regularly. Wait, they have no equipment, skills and expertise.

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      • Anonymous says:

        There are several monitoring wells installed around the dump, armchair expert.

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        • Anonymous says:

          LOL. Monitor all you want, but you can do nothing about it. Besides, who is monitoring? Didn’t they say they have no equipment, lab and expertise?
          By the way what does it show? Pristine water suitable for drinking?

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  8. Anonymous says:

    Why is so many now, like it was 60 years ago, something went wrong why all of a sudden its so many mosquitos around Grand Cayman, the Brac its not so bad.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Healthcare, garbage collection, now mosquitoes- Dwayne Seymour, need I say more….

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  10. Anon says:

    At lease the Brac is getting a taste of the poisonous cloud, they always want what we get.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    Do not worry – Honorable Seymour has it all under control along with his chief secretary!

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  12. Anonymous says:

    Unna wanted to go back to the old days. #dawhayaget

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  13. Anonymous says:

    You should ask how many former employees of Cayman’s MRCU have died of cancer. I am aware of 5 but I think there might be more.

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    • Ironside says:

      Without a direct link showing that there was intake to the body of carcinogenic chemicals from being around or using the different chemicals deployed in the past and today by MRCU, your speculation has no merit.

      But I would be cautious for sure myself as we now know more about the dangers of long-term exposure to man made chemicals and their effect on the human body, as well as the environment.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Aahrrr, you must be a defense attorney or one of those who needs scientific proofs, direct links etc. for everything. How about old fashioned common sense?

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    • Anonymous says:

      I know 2 Brackers

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    • Anonymous says:

      How many of those used colored toilet paper though?

  14. Right ya so says:

    These “pellets” that your reader found, what do they look like and how big are they? Am asking as I noticed some very small, grayish pellets on my property recently & don’t know what they are or where they came from. Wonder if they’re from the MRCU plane…

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  15. Anonymous says:

    This is genuinely scary stuff – is there no accountability??

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  16. Anonymous says:

    I tell u them damn imported mosquitos caused it to be so many now.

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    • Anonymous says:

      The Oxitec project had been stopped since November 2018, which means all of the male mosquitoes that were released have long been dead. So no, they are not the cause of the increase of mosquitoes now, 9 months later.

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      • Anonymous says:

        They had experimented for a decade before stopping. The mosquitos were designed to breed and the young would die before maturing according to the official story. It didn’t work. Since they started (although there could be other causes) all I know is we now have some huge black mosquitos and an increase generally across the island.

        As it comes under the same minister, I will add that I have also noticed a massive increase in rats and flies since the beginning of this entire garbage debacle unfolding over the last year or so.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Who know what was really going on.

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  17. Anonymous says:

    Local crops getting spay with it too no more farmers market for me.
    Now I know why thy want us to eat local. .

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  18. Anonymous says:

    Every body over 70 got dementure and on metformin

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  19. Anonymous says:

    a little bit of scare mongering here….
    i’m sure the mrcu are carrying out all works to internationally approved standards..

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  20. Anonymous says:

    I am glad I am out of this mad scientist lab aka Grand Cayman aka Paradise. Unfortunately my nervous system is damaged and my house – mate, an expat, is dead from an aggressive brain tumor. We lived in Snug Harbor. I remember going for a walk early evenings and running inside to avoid being sprayed from mosquito trucks. I hope Caymanians are blessed with good genes & powerful body detox system. But even fast river can be clogged.

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  21. Anonymous says:

    So the Director answered the question relating to the health of bees, but refused to comment on whether or not they are using a spray that could cause brain damage in children?

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  22. Anonymous says:

    Idiots in charge! I’d rather have Oxitec battling the moz and not these imbeciles who are poisoning us and the bees! My children play outside while the crazy plane nearly crashes into the house!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Idiots now but back in the day no one cared when MRCU was using DDT, even when is was banned in North America.

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      • Anonymous says:

        When was that exactly? The fact that this untrue statement has so many likes sums up this site. Completely untrue but people like it anyway just because it makes Government look bad.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Do not tamper with shit you know nothing about…and I mean so-called “experts” the ones that lemming types blindly put their faith in.

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  23. Tom says:

    If everyone help by setting up natural traps by mixing yeast, brown sugar and luke warm water, not hot water as it kill the yeast. Cut the top of plastic bottle and flip over then tape together. Let make 1000 of them to start!

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    • Anonymous says:

      If this works then maybe the government could use junk to collect the plastic bottles and have inmates make them!

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      • Anonymous says:

        It’s got to work because I saw it on youtube from the guy that makes free energy systems the same way.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Awww man now CIG big wigs can’t make any grift of inmates. They need a big consultant from overseas to tell ‘em how to do it. Some one who will pad the price and offer a little $$$$$ under the table.

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    • BeaumontZodecloun says:

      This works, it really does, at leas for as long as the yeast and sugar continue to make carbon dioxide (CO2) and ethyl alcohol. Mosquitos are attracted to the CO2, and have a difficult time finding their way back out of the inverted bottle lid. I also helps to have a flat stick floating in the water, as mosquitos like a place to land upon.

      I use these and place them away from the house, as they will attract mosquitos. Closer to the house, I fill 5-gallon buckets 1/2 full with water and gently add (don’t stir) one tablespoon of liquid soap on the top. That decreases the surface tension and the female (biting) mosquitoes which intend to land on the surface of the water instead fall in and drown. I paint the lid of the bucket black (mosquitoes are attracted to dark colours) and cut four circular 2″ holes in the lids. I could leave the lid off, but I don’t want pets to drink the water.

      I put a slender stick through one of the holes to the bottom of the bucket, so small lizards that might get in there can get back out. These buckets kill hundreds of mosquitoes.

      I believe the Altosid tablets that the MRCU are safe, as they don’t seem to bother frogs or even the wee tadpoles. I have been told that MRCU doesn’t use Altosid any longer, but something different. I don’t know if that is true or not.

      We can all help with the problem. I can see the difference in my area, as my neighbors also do as we do.

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  24. Anonymous says:

    Funny how things immediately went to hell despite all these improvements. Why is there the slightest hesitation to tell us exactly what is being sprayed? Can someone stop by MRCU and read the labels for us.

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  25. Anonymous says:

    They be breedin like Bayas for true.

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