Could Your Bromeliads Be Harbouring the Zika Mosquito?

1-10-17-bromeliadsWorkshop participants on Tuesday evening learned that popular house plants in the Bromeliad family could be a breeding ground for the mosquito which carries the Zika virus.

There are about 3475 species of Bromeliads known, one of which is the pineapple. Many homes use them as both indoor and outdoor plants because of their multi-coloured hues, overlapping leaves and ability to retain water. It is this retention of water that can be a breeding place for the eggs of the Aedes Egypti mosquito. This mosquito is known to carry the Zika and Chikungunya Viruses and Dengue.

Sally Edwards, Environmental Health Advisor for the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) shared this information at the workshop hosted by the Ministry of Health at the Credit Union Hall. Also on the team are Dr. Godfrey Xuereb, PAHO/WHO Representative for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean and Dr. Peter Crowley, Advisor, Health Systems and Services.

Attendees included nurses from primary and secondary health care, ministers of the gospel and representatives from churches and other community groups. Permanent Secretary of Health Elijah Silcott said the goal was to share the information with a core group who can then disseminate within their organisations and communities.

The PAHO Advisor in her presentation shared a checklist of places where stagnant water can allow mosquitoes to breed. They include the dish draining board, seldom used toilets and showers, vases, empty pools and ponds, barbecue covers, septic tanks and roof gutters.

“Anywhere the water doesn’t move is a problem,” Edwards explained. She cleared up a fallacy that the mosquito only liked to breed in clean water. “Mosquitoes are quite happy breeding in septic water.”

She suggested that barrels of water which are popular around Caribbean homes should be placed on blocks, a hole drilled then attach a tap. The top must be covered with a mesh tightly and not sagging into the water. Barrels used for garbage should have holes in the bottom to allow any rain water to run out.

“Every citizen of Montserrat is responsible to assist with the elimination of this mosquito. Every citizen in Montserrat contribute to the mosquitoes staying alive,” said Dr. Xuereb.