Tuesday 19 November, 2019

Plans step up for mosquito management

The Mosquito Research and Control Unit (MRCU) recently announced an overhaul of its mosquito management programme across Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.

The changes are designed to bring the islands in line with operations in Grand Cayman and with scientific best practice. 

The Minister for Health, Environment, Culture and Housing, Hon. Dwayne Seymour explained: "The MRCU has taken these steps to ensure the highest standards of mosquito management are met across for communities across all three islands.” 
The unit’s plan for Cayman Brac and Little Cayman includes moving away from acting on ad hoc spray requests from the public, towards a sustained approach of surveillance based control, which has been proven to be most effective at tackling mosquito populations. 

Such surveillance techniques, which include bite counts and portable and baited traps, are new to Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, though they are regularly used successfully in Grand Cayman.

This practice helps to determine not only whether mosquitos are in fact present but also to better target mosquito population control efforts where needed. 

The MRCU uses a range of control strategies in its arsenal, in addition to spraying. Water management and control of the aquatic stages of mosquito development are techniques most often used by the unit as prevention measures. 

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 in the islands. Cayman Brac will now also be used as a base for aerial operations and the jump off point for such work carried out in Little Cayman. 

To assist with the programme’s overhaul, MRCU has made substantial investments in order to standardise equipment used across the islands and to improve operations. New surveillance traps have been deployed and a forklift, trailer and $90,000 loader truck arrived in Cayman Brac at the start of this month to facilitate loading spray planes. 

Three full time Disease Prevention Officers were recently hired to assist with increased efforts. Little Cayman has received a new Disease Prevention Officer as part of the improvements made by MRCU.

Kemarley Maxam began work on Little Cayman in May. He is the MRCU’s first full time Disease Prevention Officer on that island. The 22-year-old Caymanian joined the team with prior experience working in tourism in the Cayman Islands. 

Meanwhile, on Grand Cayman, MRCU’s increased ground control measures successfully contended with a mosquito outbreak over the past two weeks.

An aerial spraying operation on June 25, using a recently-procured chemical that targets adult mosquitoes, helped to mop up nearly 7,000 acres in the Frank Sound/North Side area. 

MRCU hopes the public is experiencing less mosquito discomfort and continues to invite requests for service at 949-2557 or through the MRCU website at MRCU.ky.

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