ROSEAU, Dominica (CMC) – Health officials are faced with what has been described as a major battle in the fight against Chikungunya owing to what they say is a reluctance of Dominicans to accept that the disease is transmitted by mosquitoes.
“One of the major barriers is that people are reluctant to believe that the mosquito is involved,” District Medical Officer, Dr Candia Jacob, told a panel discussion on the disease in Cottage on Wednesday night. “If they are not convinced, they are not going to do much.”
She said that the matter has got so bad that environmental health officers have taken to threatening people with the law if they don’t get rid of containers that breed mosquitoes.
“We have the environmental health officers actually having to go to homes and overturn the drums,” she said. “They literally take up on themselves to empty drums, turn them over … and threaten people that they are going to put them in jail.”
Meanwhile Senior Environmental Health Officer, Clement Marcellin, believes there are some legal loopholes when it comes to mosquito control and punishing those who disobey the law.
He said under the Mosquito Control Regulations when a notice is served and ignored, the matter is referred to court.
“Most instances, once you serve that notice the offender takes urgent strides to comply, so that they don’t have to go to court but the damage has already been done and that is where we have been failing,” he said.
Marcellin prefers what he described as ‘a fixed ticket’ where offenders have to pay up as soon as the notice is served.
There are over 2,000 confirmed cases of Chikungunya in Dominica.
Several Caribbean countries have reported cases of Chikungunya, a viral disease, carried mainly by the Aedes aegypti mosquito that causes a dengue-like sickness.
Symptoms include a sudden high fever, severe pain in the wrists, ankles or knuckles, muscle pain, headache, nausea, and rash. Joint pain and stiffness are more common with Chikungunya than with dengue.