The Guam Environmental Protection Agency takes us through the eradication efforts in response to dengue fever.
Mosquitoes are the sole carrier of the dengue fever virus and with it being the rainy season, the conditions for mosquitoes to breed are ripe.
Following the first confirmed case of locally acquired dengue fever, Public Health took measures to attempt to reduce the chances of others contracting the disease by applying pesticides within a 200-yard radius of the infected person’s Mangilao residence as well as at two Ordot-Chalan Pago schools.
Guam EPA spokesman Nic Lee said the agency was able to take a look at the scope of work that was proposed by the pesticide and insecticide applicator.
“We took a look at the products that were going to be used during the application so we were able to take a look at the safety data sheets and the product labels to ensure that one — the products are EPA-registered — and two they are EPA-established,” Lee said.
Talstar P Professional insecticide was used in the corridors and interiors of the school buildings. Demon Max Insecticide was sprayed along the perimeter and Bonide Mosquito Beater was used in the areas where there was observable standing water.
EPA was onsite at Ordot Chalan Pago Elementary school on Monday to observe the contractor applying the products.
“There is minimal health risk involved with any pesticide and I want to say that the choice of the insecticide used at the two schools is on the mild spectrum. There are other insecticides that are on the harsher side so there was a good balance of ensuring safety once the pesticide was applied and balancing that out with the effectiveness in controlling mosquito vectors,” Lee said.
He added: “There were no observable deficiencies in terms of how the product was applied both indoors and outdoors along the property perimeter. So that was a welcome sign. Additionally, there was notice given to any passersby or anybody who could potentially wander into the premises while the insecticide was being sprayed.”
Caution was also taken to ensure that safety precautions were met not only for the occupants but for the personnel applying the insecticide as well. He says it comes down to using the applicator as directed by the EPA-approved label.
They also took into consideration the required time of one hour for drying of the insecticide before allowing contact with surfaces sprayed.
With a second case being confirmed Tuesday afternoon, Lee says the community may feel the need to take precautionary measures into their own hands but warns that directions for insecticide application must be followed to the T.
“We have a tendency to think if some is good more is better. But when you’re handling or using insecticides or pesticides products designed to kill things, you want to make sure that you’re using it as the manufacturer intended. If you over-apply, you could be wasting your own money and you could be exposing yourself to more potential health hazard than the pest that you are trying to eliminate,” Lee said.
There are also alternatives to commercial insecticides such as natural deterrents like apple cider vinegar, lavender, peppermint, citronella and even garlic which may repel mosquitoes. Other measures you can take is ensuring that no standing water is outside your homes as these breeding areas for mosquitoes.