For the vast majority of people, mosquitos are hardly to be celebrated. World Mosquito Day is Aug. 20 and the Puerto Rico Vector Control Unit is taking the opportunity to remind people that the fight against mosquito-borne diseases starts with controlling the breeding grounds of the pesky and often deadly insect.
With that in mind, the Vector Control Unit has launched a free app called “Mosquítalo,” a free application that helps the user to identify and eliminate possible breeding sites around or inside the home. Through the application, users can report the hatcheries they have removed. This helps keep a record of activities carried out for controlling mosquitos in their homes and the unit can identify the most common breeding sites, such as receptacles where water has accumulated.
To download the app, users with iOS or iPhones can go directly to the App Store and for Android Cellular users, directly to the Play Store. People only need to look for Mosquítalo and download it.
The app is user friendly and the unit is encouraging people to use the app regularly, about once a week.
“The goal of the app is to help people identify, eliminate and monitor places that could be mosquito-breeding sites. In this way and in the long term, the unit wants to promote behavioral change. People are a key element in prevention and they are the first line of control against the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the vector of dengue, Zika and chikungunya,” said Marianyoly Ortiz, associate director of the Unit.
“We can’t lower our guard during this season of the year characterized by heavy rains. The Unit is working with the public through community mobilization and education strategies to promote citizen participation. People are a key element in preventing and controlling this mosquito disease vector,” she added.
World Mosquito Day commemorates British doctor Sir Ronald Ross’ 1897 discovery that female mosquitos transmit malaria between humans. In 1902, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine.
Mosquito-borne diseases remain a real health threat worldwide and are in fact, the Grim Reaper incarnate, according to historian Timothy Winegard, whose book, “The Mosquito: A Human History of our Deadliest Predator.” Based on his calculations, the female mosquito has killed about 52 billion worldwide, nearly half of the human population throughout our existence.
As part of World Mosquito Day in Puerto Rico, the unit’s mascot, “Vectorina,” will be touring local schools and participating in various activities to educate students and the public about preventing and controlling breeding grounds, as well as teaching the public that it is the female mosquito that bites. Vectorina is a female mosquito whose name was chosen by the unit’s social media followers.
It is a female mosquito whose name was selected by the followers of the unit in social networks. Vectorina will visit schools and participate in various of the unit’s events in various communities, always carrying the central message of prevention and teaching that male mosquitoes do not bite. Activities of eliminating breeding grounds are also being done with the island’s primary healthcare facilities called “Centros de Salud 330,” of which there are 85 islandwide.
The unit’s specialized technicians will also help various municipalities with calibrating their spraying machines so that they can spray insecticide properly.