One would think that the word dengue should strike fear into the hearts of all of us, think again! We love to have someone else to blame for our misfortunes, but actually do little to help ourselves. I have been in the pest control business for over 40 years and was A Fellow of The Royal Entomological Society, so I should know a bit about mosquitoes. Despite my efforts to educate my friends & neighbours and the millions spent each year by the Government in trying to educate the public about the dangers of dengue and how to take simple measures to deal with the breeding of the aedes aegypti mosquito in the home, Trinis believe that they know it all and there is no need to follow simple good practice. Take for example my neighbours, I advise them to remove the pot-saucers from under their plants in the rainy season, as the health inspectors have repeatedly found aedes aegypti larvae in them.
They are however reluctant to do so and will tell you how they put bleach regularly in the saucers and how the health inspectors also carry out treatment when they visit, despite the fact that they cannot get into the yard because of the bad dogs and the favorite excuse " all the bush next door that the Neighbours do not cut", I try my best to explain that mosquitoes do not breed in "bush" and in the case of the aedes aegypti mosquito which transmits the dengue virus, they mainly breed in clean standing water as found in vases, pot saucers, discarded cans and bottles and more than often in drums and buckets that are being used to collect rain water. I often accompany the health inspectors when they visit the area and follow up by sending out circular letters detailing our findings, along with a few choice articles from the daily newspapers. Just why the health dept does not have a system in place to follow up or even prosecute citizens ( like WASA) completely eludes me. The cost benefits by having such a system must be staggering.
When one of my friends two daughters came down with dengue in an upscale area in North T'dad, I asked him if he had any water containers on the premises that mosquitoes could possibly be breeding in. His nonchalant reply was that he sees them all the time in his dogs water bowl, but he changes the water quite regularly so that could not be the problem. When asked if he scrubbed the sides of the bowl to remove the eggs that are laid above the water level, he said that he didn't think of it, but did do so from time to time. What about the larvae that were thrown down the drain, they could now be breeding in a pool outside the neighbors house. The point is, if there is larvae, there are mosquitoes. My sons Townhouse in Diego Martin was plagued with aedes aegypti mosquitoes for many years and the breeding site was not discovered until we were able to get onto the roof, only to find that the builders had not cleaned the cement out of the gutterings during construction and that rain water was collecting, creating its own eco-system with growing plants.
I often wonder if the same applies to the roof of the Twin Towers and so many other buildings in downtown Port-of-Spain, that seem to sustain entire trees. On another occasion I tried to convince a neighbor in Diego Martin that the top of their plastic watertank was pushed in, collecting water and breeding mosquitoes. All they had to do was remove the cover & push it out. In true Trini style I was told about the bush next door and the river behind the house. When the mosquitoes got really unbearable I convinced their Gardener to remove the cover and do the necessary. This solved the problem. Trying to get the authorities to take action, other than throwing a few granules of larvacide into the water from time to time, was like pulling teeth. So much for a concerned neighbour. Education can be a slow process and strangely enough it's the older people who often take longer to learn. Do you really think that all the plastic bottles, styrotex cups and other garbage that is left in our parks, rivers and beaches is due to the youth? It is evident that Trinis must feel to learn and the place that we really feel it most is in our pockets.
Signal Hill, Tobago