While echoing sentiments that the US Virgin Islands’ proposed Sterile Insect Technique for mosquito control is safe, Chief Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health, Dr Irad Potter, has gone further to say the method is something that might work for the BVI as well.
The technique would involve releasing sterile, non-biting male mosquitos into the BVI.
“It is something that ought to be considered because you remember that of the Aedes Aegypti mosquito [breed] — the females bite you and not the males. And if it’s selectively killing off the ones that are carrying the disease, that’s a good thing. So, it is something to explore,” Dr Irad Potter told BVI News in a recent interview.
“If you find a technique that is going to selectively kill the mosquito that is carrying the bad diseases, that is something to be interested in,” the Chief Medical Officer added.
No moves without public input, go-ahead from gov’t
Dr Potter, however, made it clear that no such move would be made in the territory without public consultation as well as approval from government.
He said: “We have not decided to use any of that kind of technology as yet and we won’t do it without having some kind of communication with our people. We would try to have an educational discussion with them regarding what it is and those kinds of things.”
Dr Potter also alluded to the fact that the Sterile Insect Technique, which uses the bacterium Wolbachia to reduce the transmission of mosquito-borne viruses, is used by the World Mosquito Programme in numerous countries.
He said that plenty of literature that supports the use of the method is available on credible from credible groups such as the World Health Organisation and the Centre for Disease Control in the United States.
Earlier this week, Chief Environmental Health Officer Lionel Michael stated that the method which is projected to be rolled out in St Croix, USVI by 2020, seems to have a high degree of safety.
He said mosquitoes have been around for centuries and fully eradicating them is impossible. Michael said he, therefore, believes the best thing that can be done is to control the mosquitoes through suppressing the disease using various methods or techniques.
While he rates the Sterile Insect Technique as safe and theoretically effective, Michael said he supports more traditional vector control methods.
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