Thu, Apr 02, 2009 - Page 4 News List

Health authorities using guppies to fight dengue

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

Health authorities release guppies into a flooded basement in Kaohsiung on Tuesday in an attempt to control the mosquito population and prevent an outbreak of dengue fever.

PHOTO: CNA

Health authorities released 100,000 guppies into the flooded basement of a Kaohsiung City building on Tuesday in their latest attempt to control the mosquito population and prevent a dengue fever outbreak.

The basement, measuring more than 3,000m², is located in a building in Jhengren Borough that has been uninhabited for more than 20 years.

The country’s first indigenous dengue fever case this year was recently reported in the Kaohsiung County.

The pool of water in the building’s basement is a haven for mosquitoes and has long been a headache for local health authorities.

A dispute over ownership of the property has delayed the building’s demolition, while garbage piled inside makes draining the water impossible.

Residents in the neighborhood launched a campaign three years ago to try to clean up the place, but the problem has persisted.

Officials from the city’s health department said the most effective way to prevent a dengue fever outbreak was to root out the mosquitoes, which it suggested achieving through natural methods to avoid harming the environment.

Furthermore, spraying pesticide, which is often used to control an outbreak of dengue fever, can lead to resistance among mosquitoes, the officials said.

The health department said it had identified more than 130 locations in the city with long-term water drainage problems and would release small fish such as guppies and mosquito fish into the stagnant pools to eat mosquito larvae, they said.

Dengue is transmitted by mosquitoes infected with the virus.

Symptoms include fever, abdominal pain, vomiting and bleeding. The disease can be deadly and early diagnosis is therefore important.

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control show that a total of 41 dengue fever cases were reported between the start of this year and the end of last month.

All of the cases were imported except for the case confirmed in Kaohsiung County last week.

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