Councillor fears Asian Tiger mosquito helping to spread dengue

Councillor fears Asian Tiger mosquito helping to spread dengue

BY CLAUDIENNE EDWARDS
Observer writer

Monday, January 20, 2020

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COUNCILLOR Norman Perry (People's National Party, Duhaney Park Division) believes that the Aedes albopictus, also known as the Asian Tiger mosquito, could be more of a contributory factor to cases of dengue in the Corporate Area than the Ministry of Health and Wellness is admitting.

Perry told the council meeting of the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) last Tuesday that there is a high concentration of Asian Tiger mosquitoes in the Duhaney Park and New Haven areas, and that more public education is needed about them.

The councillor said that the Asian Tiger mosquito, which many of his constituents describe as “the mosquito with the white helmet”, is more aggressive than the Aedes aegypti mosquito that the ministry said is the dominant cause of dengue in the island.

“The Asian Tiger doesn't only breed in containers, they also breed in bushes, and they attack right throughout the day,” Perry said.

More public education should be disseminated on the Asian Tiger mosquito, he argued.

However, in an interview Everton Parkes, head of the Environmental Unit for Clinical Data at the ministry, told the Jamaica Observer that although the Aedes aegypti and the Aedes albopictus were equally competent at spreading the vector that causes dengue, there are more Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in Jamaica than Asian Tiger mosquitoes.

“So more cases of dengue would result from bites from the Aedes aegypti than the Asian Tiger,” he said.

The Observer also posed a number of questions about the Asian Tiger mosquito to Sherine Huntley Jones, medical entomologist and programme manager of the Vector Control Programme at the Ministry of Health and Wellness.

Jones said, “Since the detection of Aedes albopictus in the Caribbean in the 1980s, the ministry has had a national surveillance system in place to detect the introduction of this species. Suspicion of its presence was raised when samples collected under the surveillance system did not fit the description of other species endemic in Jamaica.”

She said that the presence of the Asian Tiger mosquito in the island was confirmed in 2017.

The medical entomologist described the Aedes albopictus as “a black mosquito with bright white stripes on the legs and the abdomen, but the main mark would be the single white stripe that runs down from the head down to the back of the mosquito”.

When asked by the Observer if the Asian Tiger mosquito's arrival in Jamaica could be associated with the increase in dengue cases, Huntley Jones stated that dengue transmission has many contributing factors. “The abundance, distribution and behaviour of the vectors are some of those factors. However, it is important to note that human behaviour, as it relates to the management of water storage, is the largest contributing factor,” she said.


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