Home»Programs»The Virgin Islands Department of Health Vector Control Program
The Virgin Islands Department of Health Vector Control Program
The Virgin Islands Department of Health Vector Control Program
The VIDOH Vector Control Program (VCP) is focused on monitoring the Aedes aegypti mosquito that can spread dengue, Zika, and chikungunya and learning the best ways to control it. Since early 2017, the VCP has been doing routine mosquito surveillance to better understand the local mosquitoes. This surveillance helps program officials make the best decisions in trying to control thismosquito to prevent disease out breaks and mitigate natural disasters.
What is a Vector?
A vector is the term used for an animal that can spread diseases. In USVI, the main vector for dengue, Zika, and chikungunya is the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes spread these diseases from an infected person to an uninfected person through their bite. Male mosquitoes CAN’T BITE and feed only on nectar and other sugar sources from plants. Male mosquitoes can’t spread disease.
Dengue, Zika, and Chikungunya
What is Dengue Fever?
Dengue fever is a disease spread through the bite of an infected female Aedes mosquito. The disease affects more than 400 million people worldwide each year. USVI is considered endemic for the disease, meaning dengue cases or a dengue outbreak can occur at any time. Symptoms are like a bad flu, including high fever, joint and muscle pain, pain around the eye area, and death. A severe rash can follow once the fever subsides. Find out more about dengue on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.
What is Zika?
Zika is a disease spread mostly through the bite of an infected female Aedes mosquito. It can also be spread sexually from one infected person to an uninfected person. Zika’s symptoms are similar to dengue fever but also include redness of the eyes, called conjunctivitis. When a pregnant mother gets infected with Zika, the developing baby may also get infected and may be born with severe birth defects. Find out more about Zika by visiting the VIDOH Epidemiology web page or by visiting the CDC website.
What is Chikungunya?
Chikungunya is a disease spread through the bite of an infected female Aedes mosquito. The most common symptoms are fever and joint pain. The joint pain may last for six months or more in some people. Learn more about chikungunya by visiting the CDC website.
Vector Control Program Projects
Adult Mosquito Surveillance
The VIDOH Vector Control Program (VCP) has been conducting routine mosquito surveillance since early 2017 to learn more about the Aedes aegypti mosquito that can spread dengue, Zika, and chikungunya. Surveillance is collecting thesemosquitoes with traps around the territory. The amount of thesemosquitoes collected over time shows us how the mosquito populations change by season, if some areas of the territory have more of these mosquitoes than others, and if control is working. This important information then allows VIDOH VCP personnel to make the best decisions in trying to control thesemosquitoes should an outbreak or natural disaster occur.
Larval Mosquito Survey
The VIDOH Vector Control Program worked with Western Carolina University from 2019-2020 to collect mosquito larvae throughout the territory and learn what mosquito species live in USVI. The last time this was done was in the 1960s, so it was very important to update this information. Through this larval mosquito survey, we have found that are about two dozen species of mosquito in USVI, and we even found two mosquitoes that have never been found in USVI before! Luckily, they are not known to spread diseases in the USVI.
For more information on what we’ve learned through this survey, check out our partner’s website, and stay tuned for additional information and publications!
Mosquito Control Projects
During the Zika outbreak in 2016-2017, backpack spraying was used to help control Aedes aegypti mosquitoes around the territory. It was done by trained technicians who sprayed pesticides around homes, businesses, schools, and hospitals where permission was granted. The VIDOH Vector Control Program was not formed until the end of 2016, so a vector control company was contracted to do the backpack spraying in response to the Zika outbreak in 2016-2017.
In2Care® Mosquito Traps
The VIDOH Vector Control Program used the In2Care® Mosquito Trap in a USVI neighborhood in 2019 to see if it can control Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in our local environment. The results are being analyzed and will be posted when complete. Stay tuned for additional information!
The St. Croix Mosquito Project
The VIDOH Vector Control Program is excited about the proposed St. Croix Mosquito Project. Learn more here.
Cisterns and Mosquitoes
The VIDOH together with Western Carolina University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) checked cisterns throughout the territory for mosquitoes and tested cistern water for germs that can cause disease. The study found that mosquitoes were present in more than 4 out of 10 cisterns checked, and most of those mosquitoes were the Aedes aegypti mosquito that can spread dengue, Zika, and chikungunya.
To prevent mosquitoes from getting into your cistern, make sure the intake spout and overflow spout are screened with fine mesh with holes as small as window screens, and that the cistern cover is tight enough so that mosquitoes can’t get in.
Mosquitoes can breed in as little as 2 tablespoons of water! Even small containers that can collect water, like bottles, children’s toys, barrels, buckets, bucket lids, and overturned garbage can lids, can breed hundreds to thousands of mosquitoes. This is another reason why it is so important not to litter!
Everyone can remove, reduce, and cover containers around their yards, homes, and businesses that hold water and can breed mosquitoes. This is called source reduction.
Some ways to prevent and reduce mosquitoes around your yard are:
Check your yard for objects that can hold water, even small amounts of water, and remove it, cover it, or dump out the water at least once a week.
Dispose of all tires properly. Tires can breed thousands of mosquitoes.
Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers and flowerpots.
Clear roof gutters of debris.
Clean your pets’ water dishes at least once a week.
Check and empty water out of children’s toys at least once a week.
Pick up and throw away trash. Don’t litter.
Repair leaky outdoor faucets.
Change the water in bird baths at least once a week.
Kayaks and other boats should be turned over. Larger boats and jet skis that are out of water should be covered and covers such as tarpaulins should be checked for standing water.
If water collects on your pool cover, remove the water from the pool cover at least once a week.
Empty water collected in tarps or tents around the yard at least once a week.
Plug tree holes and empty or treat bromeliads and other water collecting plants