CASTRIES: Health officials say they will launch a major new vector eradication campaign, in response to increasing cases of the chikungunya virus on the island.
Chief Medical Officer Dr. Merlin Frederick says while there have been five confirmed cases of the virus spread by the aedes aegypti mosquito, health authorities are bracing for an increase in the number of cases.
The campaign was preceded by a stakeholders meeting on May 13, at which representatives of the Ministry of Heath, the St. Lucia Solid Waste Management Authority, the St. Lucia Air and Seaports Authority, and non-government organizations fine-tuned the plan.
“We are going to take a collaborative approach,” said Dr. Frederick. She said that the objective of the new campaign was to eliminate breeding grounds for mosquitoes before the onset of the rainy season.
Fredericksaid the initiative will also include the use of chemicals to target the “aquatic stages” of the development of the mosquito, fogging to get rid of the adult insects, plus a public awareness campaign.
She said areas with the highest vector indices will be given priority.
“Despite all our public awareness and sensitization efforts, people are still complacent,” saidFrederick.
Chikungunya first made itself known in the Caribbean last December, when it showed up onSt. Martin. More than 4,108 cases have been reported in 14 countries across theCaribbeanas of the end of April.
“By definition this is an epidemic since it represents an unusual number of cases of this problem where we would never have it before,” said Dr. James Hospedales.
Chikungunya has been confirmed in Anguilla, Aruba, Virgin Islands, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Barthelemy, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, St. Maarten (Dutch) and St. Martin (French).