Mosquitoes, worst ever

Published in Forum items

Despite the local authorities' attempts to control mosquitoes with pesticides, many have complained that the mosquitoes on the island are more virulent than ever.

 A couple of examples from the Eco Hvar in-box:

"We have been visiting the island on a regular basis for the last ten years and have just returned to England after three weeks in Jelsa.
This has been by far the worst visit in terms of mosquito bites. The incidence seems to be rising year on year. I understand that before our visit the streets were sprayed twice with a strong mixture of poisons in the space of just over a month. Whatever is being done, clearly isn’t working and it is, in fact, having the opposite effect from what is needed." Lynne, UK, e-mail 20th August 2014.

"Some friends who visited Pitve have told me that the mosquitoes were a real problem. Their ten-year-old daughter was so badly bitten on her face that she wanted to go back to Vienna immediately." S., Vienna, e-mail August 2014.

Eco Hvar. There are other, more promising approaches to the mosquito problem:

Some countries are studying the problem with care and choosing ecologically sound solutions. Brazil, which was following on from experiments in Australia, released tens of thousands of mosquitoes infected with a bacterium (called Wolbachiapipientis) which acts as a vaccine against dengue feverin a preventive programme, which started in 2012. The aim was to reduce the number of mosquitoes carrying the dengue fever virus, which in Brazil affected some 3.2 million people, with 800 deaths between 2009 and 2014. The programme in Australia was proven to be effective in reducing the number of disease-carrying mosquitoes.

Another approach, pioneered by British biotechnology firm Oxitec, has been to breed genetically modified mutant male mosquitoes whose offspring die before adulthood, therefore reducing the numbers of disease-carrying mosquitoes. Experimental release of millions of these insects was done in secrecy in various countries, starting on Grand Cayman Island,a nd later in India, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Panama among others. In places where mosquito-borne diseases are not a particular threat, the policy of releasing genetically modified mosquitoes has come under question. In early 2015, plans were under discussion to release millions of genetically modified mosquitoes three times a week in Florida as a preventive measure. There was particular concern about the possible effects if a human should be bitten by one of these mosquitoes, although Oxitec claimed it would do its utmost to release only male mosquitoes, which do not bite humans.

Personal preventive measures

A strong immune system is vital defence against mosquito-borne diseases as al other infecetions. So a healthy diet, combined with regular exercise and adequate rest are mandatory. One should avoid, or at least minimize debilitating factors such as processed foods and drinks, refined sugar and flour, caffeine and alcohol. Personal hygiene, especially frequent hand washing, is an essential part of infection prevention.

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