Zika, we hardly knew you …

And thank goodness for that, I say!

I’ll be leaving Bequia in less than two weeks, after having been here for nearly 6 months. When I arrived last October, everyone was extremely concerned about a new mosquito-borne virus making its way through South America and that was expected to pose a threat shortly within the Caribbean region.

We all did what we could (well, most people on the island did) to clean up our properties, to make sure there was no standing water in which mosquitoes could breed. There were island-wide cleanups organized, and people really did seem to be consciously trying to combat the threat of a new virus (too many of us had suffered from Chikungunya two years ago and we didn’t want a repeat!), so it looked as though we might have it beat.

Unfortunately, the government’s way of dealing with mosquitoes is to fog with chemicals … which they have done far too many times this past year. It’s an unnecessary expense and the mosquitoes are still here. Everything else, though is effectively affected, including the honey bees. I spoke with a Bequia apiarist last week who told me he had lost more than a third of his bee population and honey production has been way down. He hasn’t been able to supply local stores at all lately. He also said he noticed the Bequia Sweet birds (grackles) had disappeared from his part of Bequia, but there was one in a tree by our verandah just now, so I know they have not been decimated.

There have been attempts made to breed out the particular type of mosquito carrying all these viruses, but that’s more of a long-term proposition. The one way to ensure the immediate eradication is to clean up the island. We did go through a period earlier in the winter, when the Christmas winds blew strong, that we saw fewer mosquitoes around our house … but recently the numbers have been increasing again. A neighbour did discover a large source of standing water filled with mosquito larvae at a property that has been sitting empty for a number of years. Once that was dealt with we noticed the numbers of mosquitoes are dwindling again.

Anyway, that’s my report – and it’s why I’ve written so little about Zika over the past few months. It’s been a non-issue in SVG, with only one case reported, on Union Island, about a month or so ago. This “new” virus certainly did not ravage the population as Chikungunya did.

And speaking of which … I’ve been experiencing Chikungunya-related pain again recently in my shoulder, and I’ve spoken with and heard from others who still have not shaken the symptoms of that nasty virus. No wonder we were all so worried about another virus threat! I for one don’t think I could ever go through that agony again. That was totally debilitating!

So it was with great joy and relief I discovered the following article about a possible means of combatting these pesky mosquitoes. Ironically, it’s a method developed at Laurentian University, in Sudbury where Dennis and I both lived for a time. It’s cheap, it uses recyclable materials, and it’s proving to be more effective than other methods. I’ve passed on the article to people on Bequia who are committed to finding a way of permanently dealing with this mosquito problem.

Here’s hoping it will work on Bequia!

Canadian team set to turn tires against Zika virus

The ovillanta design. Photo courtesy Daniel Pinelo.

The ovillanta design. Photo courtesy Daniel Pinelo.

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18 responses

  1. What an elegant solution to the problem! A “$5.00 weapon” that is simple and doesn’t harm the environment sounds a lot more sensible than a massive and ineffectual campaign that just ends up poisoning everything in sight.

    1. Absolutely! Thanks for reading and commenting!

      1. You’re welcome! 🙂

  2. Very useful info! Thanks for passing on your knowledge, Susan. The Canadian experiment sounds hopeful.

  3. Thanks for the inside knowledge. I hope pains get better and the government actions don’t decimate the rest of the wild life.

  4. I talked to someone from the USDA about the male mosquito that when released gives rise to offspring that die – apparently the FDA is dragging its feet about using this tool to control the zika-carrying mosquitoes because they have a regulation that whatever is done to the insect must cause no harm. How ridiculous these governmental regs have become!

  5. I’m visiting Parry Sound area and looking out at a foot of snow. Don’t rush back…

    1. 🙂 But I bet you have no mosquitoes.

  6. Such a serious issue for so many. I hadn’t thought about all the side effects of fighting this virus and others like the loss of bees and wildlife. Sorry you must leave such a beautiful area, but good health is a priority. Best wishes with your new novel! Jo

  7. Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog and commented:
    For anyone who is concerned about Zika and similar mosquito borne diseases, click on the link Susan gives at the end of her post.

  8. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    An interesting update on the Zika virus by Susan Toy after fears that Bequia and the Caribbean in general might be badly hit in recent months…

  9. Wow! Sure hope the Canadian experiment will work! I think I did have Zika a few months ago. Had all the symptoms. By the time I got to the doctor, they said it was too late to take a blood sample to check for its presence . Go figure! I’ll do that in Canada. Certainly, if it was Zika, the symptoms were much milder than CHIKV – by a long shot! Yes, I still have residual pain which I feel is related to CHIKV too.

    In Dominica, they recently confirmed one case, and shortly thereafter, intensively fogged my neighbourhood. The company usually gives me advance warning due to my chemical sensitivities, but this time they did not. When I called to query, I was told that it was a last minute decision as there were unconfirmed cases of the virus in my neighbourhood!!!

    See you “up north!” Have a safe trip.

    1. The problem, as here, is that they just don’t think. Any quick fix for the problem will come with consequences that are sometimes worse than the original problem. At least dealing with mosquitoes in the Caribbean has trained me in fighting them in Canada, where they migĥ be more plentiful at certain times of the day, but they’re larger and move more slowly, giving me more of a fighting chance.

      See you “back home”!

  10. Sorry to hear you’re still having pain. Officials here were supposed to be keeping track of Zika cases but I read it isn’t being done properly. As long as this is left go the worse conditions will be. I haven’t read anything about it lately. It’s as though some think if they ignore it, it will go away. There have been a number of mosquito-bourne diseases here. They do that fogging. Few people here bother with screens or netting on their beds. I don’t understand the thinking. My husband had screens put on the windows of this flat shortly after he bought it. Many people here seem in denial. —- Suzanne

    1. We have nets and fans, but it’s impossible to screen the windows. Fortunately, when we were planning to build our house, Dennis situated it so the prevailing winds blow straight through. As long as the wind is blowing, as it has been doing today, we see few mosquitoes. But you are correct in that denial seems to be the greatest means for a problem like this to grow and spread.

  11. That’s good news about the lack of Zika invasion. Not so good on the Chik-related pain.

    Hope you’ve enjoyed your six months though 🙂

    1. Yes, six months sitting on the verandah, looking out at this lovely view (6 weeks of that time spent in a cast), reading, cooking, and computing. More done on the novel in my head than actual writing, but there you have it!

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