Insect Vector Control Buses
I am pleased to address you today at this media conference for the handing over of twelve (12) new Insect Vector Control buses to the Ministry of Health by the Vehicle Management Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago. I would like to acknowledge the Vehicle Maintenance Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago for the procurement of these buses, and the critical function of the ongoing maintenance of these vehicles. Their role is important to us in that this ensures that the fleet of vehicles available to the Ministry is working effectively and is available to serve the national community.
The twelve new Insect Vector Control vehicles being handed over today are Toyota Hiace Commuter fifteen-seater minibuses, and they will benefit Trinidad and Tobago by allowing the Ministry to respond to an increased number of requests from the public for house inspections and spraying exercises. The buses will significantly strengthen the existing fleet of Insect Vector Control vehicles - which will increase from sixty-one vehicles to a total of seventy-three vehicles - and they will be deployed to the Insect Vector Control offices within the various counties nationwide. It is expected that an average of 5,000 additional houses can now be visited daily.
The Ministry’s Dengue Prevention Programme is a year-long programme. Our Insect Vector Control staff has been visiting homes and communities throughout the year and will continue its focus on:
v The inspection of all premises, drains and high risk areas nationwide;
v The spraying of homes where there is an increased likelihood for the presence of Dengue Fever cases. This involves the use of insecticides on the walls and fogging around the buildings, as well as the use of spraying from the road via the ultra low volume (ULV) machine;
v Applying a larvicidal to kill mosquito larvae in water stored in barrels for drinking; and
v The reduction of sources for the breeding of the Dengue-spreading Aedes Aegypti mosquito via community dengue health education, collaboration with the Regional Corporations for clean up orders and notices, as well as clean up campaigns for the removal of all discarded materials and containers that are liable to hold water
Particular emphasis will continue to be placed on the treatment and spraying in communities where there have been:
v Any clusters of Dengue cases; and
v A high infestation of the Aedes Aegypti mosquito
I am also looking at the possibility of introducing aerial spraying using chemicals that will target the mosquito population, but which will not be harmful to other species of our flora and fauna and otherwise environmentally safe.
I wish to take this opportunity to reassure the national community that we do NOT have an outbreak of Dengue Fever in Trinidad and Tobago. In fact, there has been a decrease in the number of cases reported in 2012 compared to 2011. During the first 22 weeks of 2012, there were 1,215 reported cases of Dengue Fever compared to 1,357 cases reported for the first 22 weeks in 2011, a decrease of 10%.
I am pleased to report that between January to June 2012:
v A total 498,478 houses have been treated with perifocal work;
v 75,522 houses have been sprayed with dyna fogging;
v 87,597 houses were sprayed with ultra low volume (ULV) machines;
v 22,285 houses were sprayed residually (indoors);
v Notices were served to 16 homes in response to breaches of the yellow fever act of 1979; and
v 1,719 lectures were conducted in communities.
I wish to however remind the public that the elimination of mosquito breeding sites around homes and in communities is the KEY to the prevention of Dengue Fever. 90% of all dengue transmitting Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes are found in and around homes and 70% are found in water storage containers.
To prevent the spread of Dengue Fever, home owners must check at least once a week for mosquito breeding sites in and around homes and get rid of them by:
v Disposing of all unwanted containers in the yard or environs, which when exposed to the rain can collect water e.g. styrotex cups, bottles, old tyres;
v Covering all water-containing containers such as barrels, drums or buckets with a mosquito-proof covering;
v Checking your guttering and making sure that the water flows freely without any obstruction by leaves or branches, and that the guttering is free from any kinks;
v Emptying and scrubbing the sides of water vases or use dirt or sand instead to support the flowers;
v Ensuring that the drains in compounds allow the free flow of water; and
v Cutting down and removing all overgrown bush likely to harbor mosquitoes.
Persons should also use mosquito nets, tightly tucked under the mattress, to protect themselves at nights from mosquito bites, and use insect repellant when going outdoors, particularly at dusk, which is the peak biting time for mosquitoes.
Dengue Fever is spread from person to person by the bite of an INFECTED Aedes Aegypti mosquito. Symptoms appear within 5-6 days of being bitten, last for 1-2 weeks and can include:
v Headaches (sometimes severe);
v High fever;
v Nausea / Vomiting;
v Skin rash;
v Muscle and joint pains;
v Pain behind eyes; and
Sometimes Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever can develop. This is a serious complication of Dengue Fever which can lead to death.
I wish to remind all nationals, that anyone showing any sign or symptom of Dengue Fever should seek immediate medical treatment at the nearest Health Facility or visit a doctor. Dengue is diagnosed by a simple blood test. If a person has Dengue, the Doctor will prescribe medicines to reduce the fever and treat other symptoms as necessary.
Take ONLY those medicines prescribed by the doctor. Do not use Aspirin, Motrin, Cataflam, Olfen or Ibuprofin. These can cause bleeding which leads to shock. Use Paracetamol or Acetaminophen such as Panadol / Tylenol. Rest and drink lots of water. Parents are advised to be extra cautious since children are at greater risk of developing severe Dengue and all its complications.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Ministry of Health continues to call on all citizens to take responsibility for their health and the health of their family. Join the Fight against Dengue. Clean up your surrounding today. No mosquitoes, no Dengue!