Cyprus Mail

Bases tackle mosquito problem

Captain Glen Bullivant from JSHU working alongside Public Health England expert on environmentally safe mosquito control methods

Experts working to tackle the issue of mosquitos in the Western Sovereign Base Areas warned on Friday that total eradication of the problem was impossible without dire consequences to the environment.

British Forces Cyprus’, Joint Services Health Unit – the team responsible for tackling mosquitos – revealed that the current strategies they have in place have seen the numbers of the pest reduce significantly over the past few years.

JSHU have also been backed by Public Health England who are experts working in the UK and across Europe and they have fully-endorsed the strategy and approach to mosquito surveillance and control, the bases said on an announcement.

“There is an enhanced surveillance and targeted control strategy in place which includes the use of a biological control product,” said Captain Glen Bullivant, who heads up the team

He said the product was highly-effective and controlled the aquatic (larval) stage of the mosquito and its use is in line with international strategy and best practice.

“Control measures are based on and informed by our surveillance findings which encouragingly show that the 2017 figures demonstrate considerably fewer mosquitoes than in the past,” he said.

“Last year was a dry year, so it saw abnormally low mosquito levels but the effectiveness of the new biological product shows that the control strategy is working well and a further mosquito population reduction is expected.”

There have been calls recently for more high-profile methods such as spraying and fogging to be used to combat the problem but Bullivant said these measures are not supported by the WHO.

“Although fogging to kill adult mosquitoes provides the most visible evidence of action, the WHO stresses that the elimination of mosquito breeding sites is the most effective intervention for protecting populations. Fogging is therefore recommended for emergency situations only.”

There have also been recommendations put forward for pesticide spraying to control adult mosquitoes around the forest and wetland area but Bullivant urged caution with this method.

He said: “The products such as organophosphate pesticides are totally unacceptable as they are highly toxic to birds, aquatic life and humans and are therefore not recommended by the WHO and are completely withdrawn from UK use.

“Given the nature of the safe and effective methods which we are using, it does unfortunately mean the huge efforts by JSHU are therefore effectively invisible to the local population but they are there and they are working.”

But despite those efforts and the relative success of the methods being employed, Bullivant said there will always be mosquitos.

He said: “It is important to understand that mosquito control to zero is not possible. Eradication will never be achieved without severe consequences to the environment and mosquitoes must be accepted as part of the local ecosystem.”

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