July 26, 2021

Cayman Islands MRCU begins plans to eradicate mosquitoes

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GRAND CAYMAN (GIS) –The Mosquito Research and Control Unit (MRCU) has enlisted the help of a new group in its work to eradicate the Aedes aegypti mosquito from Grand Cayman.

Developed by MRCU, the advisory board includes eight representatives that will provide input on an eradication plan and its progress. Minister of Health Dwayne Seymour and Chief Officer Jennifer Ahearn attended the first meeting of the board on Wednesday, 29 August 2018 at MRCU. Further meetings will take place quarterly.

MRCU Director Jim McNelly, PhD, comments that the agency will seek to utilise board members’ areas of expertise in the development and implementation of a viable eradication plan that includes sound scientific metrics and practices.

“The Aedes aegypti mosquito is not endemic to the Cayman Islands, however it is widespread and has the potential to transmit a range of diseases. Unlike other mosquitoes Ae. aegypti breeds only in standing water held in containers. We believe by integrating our surveillance and control technologies, we will be able to eradicate this dangerous insect,” Dr McNelly says.
He notes that the same strategies can be maintained and sustained following eradication of this mosquito to ensure the mosquito does not return.

In addition to the MRCU Director, the Board’s other members include:

· Kate Aultman, PhD, Director of Research, School of Health Professions, University of Texas Health, San Antonio. Previously affiliated with the Gates Foundation.
· Roberto Barrera, PhD, Lead of the Entomology and Ecology Team at Dengue Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, San Juan, Puerto Rico.
· J. Lyell Clarke, III, PhD, President and CEO of Clarke and all affiliated companies, a global environmental products and services company
· Ary Faraji, PhD, Executive Director/Entomologist, Salt Lake City Mosquito Abatement District, Salt Lake City, Utah. Ary is also Vice President of the American Mosquito Control Association.
· Wil Pineau, CEO of the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce.
· Dr. Valeska Stempliuk, Advisor, Health Surveillance Prevention and Control, Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO).
· Dr. Samuel Williams-Rodriguez, MD, MPH, Director of Primary Health Care/ Acting Medical Officer of Health and Chief Medical Officer, Health Services Authority.
· Mr Joel Victorine, MPH, Environmental Health Officer, Department of Environmental Health.

Praising the high calibre of appointments Dr McNelly adds: “I fully believe their experience, guidance and passion is vital to the success of what will become our Ae. aegypti eradication strategy.”

MRCU will also enlist the support of the wider community in removing sources of standing water around homes and other buildings across the Island, as this is vital to successful eradication.

Minister Seymour says Government has set aside nearly $800,000 through the end of financial year 2019 to the development of an eradication plan, because it is commited to comprehensively tackling potential public health threats, such as Ae. Aegypti, and ensuring the healthiest environment possible for Cayman Islands residents and visitors.

Chief Officer Jennifer Ahearn notes that the composition of the board should help to ensure that the final strategy, and all programmes and projects that arise from it, meet the strictest international scientific standards. At the same time it will reflect the input of a cross-section of key local stakeholders.

Over the next several months, MRCU in collaboration with the advisory board and other key stakeholders will develop an eradication plan for roll-out in 2019.

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