The Department of Environmental Health in conjunction with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) hosted an Expert Mission recently towards The Bahamas’ implementing the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT), an old technique that is safe and cost-effective in the integrated vector (mosquito) control programme. SIT has been successfully applied as an agricultural control tool to various insect species including medflies, codling moth Cydia pomonella (L.), onion maggot Delia antiqua (Meigen) and some species of tsetse flies Glossina spp as means of sustaining crops, decreasing financial inputs and increasing economic benefits.
Most recently this technology has transitioned to the area of mosquito control. SIT is thought to be an effective mechanism in mitigating the transmission of vector-borne diseases such as Dengue Fever, Chikungunya and most recently the ZIKA virus known to be transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, in The Bahamas. It is expected that if effectively introduced there would be a drastic decrease of overall populations and the risk of the spread of the mentioned mosquito diseases.
The five-day seminar, January 15-19, 2018 delivered by Dr. Clelia Oliva, Ph.D., of the IAEA, consisted of three major topics including an overview of SIT, the intricacies of Aedes rearing, together with design setup and maintenance of an insectary, as well as field surveillance including site selection and establishment. The innovative tool is not a standalone fix for control but must be practiced with the community’s role in keeping their properties free from water-holding containers that breed mosquitoes – which encourages the drill — to tip over, turn down and throw away breeding sites.