June 21, 2021

Dr. Jim McNelly announced as new director of Cayman Islands MRCU

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The Mosquito Research and Control Unit (MRCU) has announced that Dr. James “Jim” McNelly has been appointed as its new director.

Dr. McNelly will join MRCU next week from the Mosquito Control Division of Volusia County in Florida, where he has been director for more than six years.

Prior to that, Dr. McNelly was the director for environmental sciences with the Illinois-based mosquito control services and products firm Clarke from 2008 until 2011, and regional manager for the company’s environmental mosquito management programme for the preceding eight years. Previously he was the mosquito and black fly surveillance project coordinator for Rutgers University in New Jersey, and an entomologist with the Cape May County Mosquito Commission in New Jersey. He is also a past president of the New Jersey Mosquito Control Association.

Dr. McNelly has a bachelor of science degree in agriculture from the University of Delaware, Newark; a master of science in ecology from Rutgers University in New Brunswick; and holds a PhD in entomology from North Carolina State University in Raleigh.

“I am very much looking forward to joining the MRCU team,” said Dr. McNelly. “It will be an honour to lead this organisation which has such an excellent reputation and impressive legacy.”

The Volusia County Mosquito Control Division is similar in size to MRCU and faces many of the same challenges relating to the control of nuisance mosquitoes, which have an impact on commerce and tourism, as well as controlling vector-borne diseases.

During the past few years, Dr. McNelly’s team has contended with multiple imported cases of mosquito-borne Zika and chikungunya as well as cases of West Nile virus and malaria.

“We are delighted to announce the appointment of Dr. McNelly, who has a wealth of experience in mosquito control,” said Chief Officer in the Ministry of Health, Environment, Culture and Housing, Jennifer Ahearn. “Dr. McNelly was the successful candidate following a rigorous recruitment process. We are very fortunate that we have been able to attract someone with such depth of knowledge, who has been running a similar-sized mosquito control programme with many challenges that we also face in the Cayman Islands.”

Dr. McNelly replaces former director Dr. Bill Petrie who left the unit last year, after three decades, to become head of the Miami-Dade Mosquito Control Division. Nancy Barnard, who has been acting director in the interim, will return to her duties as deputy chief officer in the Ministry of Health, Environment, Culture and Housing.

“On behalf of the MRCU team, I extend a warm welcome to Dr. McNelly,” said Ms Barnard. “I also take this opportunity to publicly thank the staff for their cooperation and support during the months I have spent at MRCU. This is an extremely professional and harmonious unit.”

Established in 1965, MRCU plays a vital role in combatting nuisance mosquitoes in the Cayman Islands, allowing residents and animals to live comfortably without being overwhelmed by mosquito bites as was the case in previous times. The mosquito control measures also allow commerce and tourism to flourish. The unit is regarded as an international leader in the fight against the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which transmits viruses including Zika, dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever. Aedes aegypti, an invasive species in the Cayman Islands, is becoming increasingly resistant to pesticides.

Dr. McNelly takes up his appointment at MRCU on Monday, 5 March 2018.

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