Zika control efforts
El Salvador is in the midst of a concentrated national campaign to control the Aedes aegypti mosquito which carries the Zika virus as well as dengue and chikungunya. The campaign runs throughout the months of March and April and involves actions at the department, municipality, colonia and individual house level to destroy and control the breeding grounds of the mosquitoes. Already the country has seen a reduction from 12% to 8% of homes where mosquito larvae were identified.
Part of the control of the mosquitoes can be the introduction of small fish which eat the larvae. A story from Fox Latino News describes how a US charity, Operation Blessing, is successfully distributing thousands of these fish in El Salvador and elsewhere:
"It is a very insidious little insect," Bill Horan, president of Operation Blessing, told Fox News Latino. "They are domesticated. They don't live in a swamp, in the woods, in a river or in a lake. They live in and around the homes – especially the homes of poor people."
Operation Blessing breeds the fish locally, then places them in buckets, barrels, tubs, wells and water tanks in pools of water in and around homes – slowing the spread of Zika.
The group developed the method of fighting disease by deploying fish into 5,500 temporarily abandoned swimming pools in and around New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. The city credited Operation Blessing with preventing an potentially huge outbreak of West Nile disease.
On the front line against Zika in El Salvador, Operation Blessing is operating fish farms producing indigenous Sambo fish in large numbers. In Mexico, more than 60 community health workers are distributing 10 to 20 gambusia to every family living in nearby Mexican villages.
Operation Blessing hired local fisherman to capture 4,000 breeder fish and are farming more and more gambusia.Fighting the spread of mosquito-borne diseases like Zika requires house-to-house combat, and these little fish are one new weapon for health authorities to deploy.