The Battle With Chikungunya – a New Weapon?
In next three weeks we are moving with Margaret from Victoria in Western Canada to Dominica in the Eastern Caribbean. From no-mosquito zone, down to the zone of Chikungunya. When photographing in Dominica this summer, we’ve seen friends affected by this nasty virus, and we are fully aware we may be next in line to get it. Not only a painful and unpleasant disease to get, Chikungunya also acts as a negative tourism factor. Canada has a travel warning in effect, and I am sure other countries have similar advices in effect, making potential visitors vary and picking other destinations instead.
I am no tourism expert at all, but I am sure it has a negative effect on the whole Caribbean tourism industry. Surely, there are some measures in effect to control population of Aedes Aegypti mosquito, same as the Asian Tiger mosquito which is also capable of spreading the virus. But – can we do anything more to protect ourselves?
Somehow I’ve got quite deeply into the subject, spent lots of time, effort, and also money to research it the best I could. I learned that Aedes Aegypti – the tiny Caribbean mosquito – has very specific habits. It is mostly a daytime mosquito, it tries to stay very close to homes, cattle barns, etc. – but it is not typically living indoors. Contrary to popular understanding, it is NOT attracted to the UV light of popular insect catchers. You know these high voltage traps with blue light? They will kill lots of innocent moths but very few mosquitoes, and practically NO Aedes Aegypti! Similarly, the Asian Tiger mosquito doesn’t get attracted to these devices.
Asian Tiger, however, has different habits and is attracted to different things than Aedes Aegypti. There are many very expensive mosquito traps on the market. Some use a propane tank to produce CO2 to imitate human presence, some employ different methods or chemicals. Unfortunately, several scientific tests proved them to be mostly effective on mosquito species which are NOT the ones responsible for Chikungunya and Dengue Fever. Aedes Aegypti – the main culprit – clearly is one of the most tricky mosquitoes to catch.
Scientists in South America performed some successful tests with a very simple device. Typically you should avoid any containers holding water and left outdoors. Yet, the method mentioned above calls for a container with some water inside.
Have it under control and change the water every week or so. Mosquitoes are lured to the water, their natural breeding spot. They will lay eggs there. But it takes over 10 days for larvae to develop, and you empty the container before there are “ready” adult mosquitoes, all mosquito larvae will be destroyed when you pour the water out. You pour back some fresh water, and here they go again. By coming to your container they won’t breed in other uncontrolled areas. You invite them to breed, but then their larvae got destroyed, cycle after cycle. But you need not to miss a cycle, or you will have a swarm of personally invited mosquitoes! This is the most basic trap which costs nothing and helps controlling the pesky and dangerous mosquitoes. Because of Aedes Aegypti specific habits, to make it most effective you should set such water trap near the house but out of your way, in a shaded, protected from wind area (back side? in nearby bushes?).
There is, however, another, new method I am quite excited about. I invested some money in obtaining samples of a new device created recently in response to several scientific tests. That device uses several factors to lure mosquitoes, and seems to be the most successful weapon so far. The decisive factor in them is a customized lure. Each species of mosquito is attracted to different elements. Some react to CO2, some prefer faint smell of lactic acid (a chemical present in our sweat), some favour yet other substances. A specialized developer I am in contact with, produces a clever device and customized lures for all species of mosquitoes. You can combine lures attracting a few species simultaneously. I did not have a chance to test the device (no Aedes Aegypti in my part of Canada), but I saw scientific reports, and I plan to test these devices when we will move to Dominica.
If these will prove even half as effective as reported, it may be a serious weapon in reducing the threat of these disease spreading mosquitoes. While in everyday life I am a professional photographer offering my high quality services to you, I intend to follow up on this, conduct some tests and report back to you on our blog
If working well, this small electric device may be able to help protecting you and your guests against mosquitoes, create a mosquito free zones in your homes, reduce number of Chikungunya and Dengue cases, and perhaps – if endorsed by Caribbean governments – it can help easing the worries of future visitors to this region.
Please click “follow” on our blog to hear more about it. You will be updated with every post from us. I intend to report back with honest and detailed comments about this device. We need to know if there is a new effective tool, or it is once again something not so reliable. If it works – I may even bring it down here commercially! Just give me a bit of time, we are moving in 3 weeks from now, need to unpack, settle down, then we can do some tests. We actually have a few extra units which will be tested by our friends in different areas of Dominica, to gather more detailed info. Stay tuned!
(And until then – you can try the water trap. I tested it here in Canada with other species of mosquitoes, and it works really good. Cheers!)