ST. GEORGE’S: Authorities are considering reintroducing legislation enabled more than 50 years ago to counter the breeding of mosquitoes in response to the increasing rate of people suffering from the Chikunguyna virus.
Chief Environmental Health Officer, Andre Worme, said the Ministry of Health is looking at the country’s Mosquito Destruction Act of 1952, which was enacted during a period when there was an intense eradication program in the Caribbean.
The legislation sought to encourage people to apply proper environmental hygiene practices in an effort to reduce the mosquito population, thereby reducing the incidence of dengue which was prevalent at the time.
“Years gone by we have seen a gradual abrogation and a moving away from the enforcement mechanisms and we thought that with the current threat of Chikungunya, it is important for us now to bring greater awareness to this possibility that persons can be prosecuted for infringement of this piece of legislation,” said Worme.
The Mosquito Destruction Act provides for a fine of EC$250 (one EC dollar =US$0.37 cents) for first time offenders found guilty by the court of having on their properties containers of water with mosquito larva in them. Repeat offenders will be charged EC$500.00.
According to Worme, once the decision is taken to begin the enforcement of the legislation, it can be done by health officials applying directly to the court or through the police prosecutorial system.
Meanwhile, the Ministry is raising awareness of the existence of the legislation.
“Although we know the adage that ‘ignorance of the law is no excuse’, we still wanted to ensure that persons become aware of the problem and this piece of legislation, prior to taking more serious enforcement action,” said Worme.
He said the Ministry can begin enforcing the law within the next two weeks.
Last week, medical practitioners in Grenada said the Chikungunya virus had reached epidemic levels and urged the population to dispel the myth that the disease is spread by other means except the aedes egypti mosquito.
Dr. Francis Martin said the virus has reached epidemic proportions, with close to 60 per cent of the population manifesting symptoms. He said the high rates of the virus could be linked to the fact that people are refusing to accept that the virus is spread by the mosquito.
“As a people we try to shift blame, or shift things because it removes our responsibility…but somehow the idea of people saying it’s not (due to mosquitoes) feels as though people want to take responsibility away from themselves that they are the ones to keep the place clean,” he said.