Mosquito-borne diseases are putting financial pressure on families as people who fall ill are unable to work or attend school, and relatives often need to take time off to care for them. On a global scale, research has identified that families cope with 45 per cent of the total cost of dengue - caring for an affected member can triple monthly household expenses.
In La Paz and other parts of Mexico, communities have suffered from dengue outbreaks in the past, which has driven the World Mosquito Program to work in Mexico. Following extensive community engagement and public acceptance activities in 2018, the first phase of releases of Wolbachia-carrying mosquitoes recently began in La Paz. More than 1800 community members are showing their support by volunteering to host 'Zancu KITs'.
World Mosquito Program Project Manager for Mexico, Frederico Muzzi, thanks the community for the support that makes the development and success of our Wolbachia method in La Paz possible.
“The heroes of this project are all those who make our work possible, they are all the citizens of Baja California who have joined us, whether by taking part in one of our 330 events organised by our community engagement, listening or reading about the Wolbachia method, showing interest with their questions and comments, or being volunteers. Our greatest gratitude is for all of those who have trusted our project and decided to volunteer and host the Zancu KITs in their patios, gardens or trees,” he says.
Zancu KITs are cardboard containers that house mosquito eggs. Water is added to the container by community members, and after 2-3 weeks the eggs hatch and the adult mosquitoes fly away. The Wolbachia-carrying mosquitoes then breed with the local mosquito population, causing the proportion of mosquitoes with Wolbachia to increase over time. Mosquitoes with Wolbachia have a reduced ability to transmit viruses to people, decreasing the risk of dengue, Zika, chikungunya and yellow fever outbreaks.
Mario Espinoza, one of our hundreds of Zancu KIT hosts, supports the project in order to help his family. “My grandchildren are always at the house,” he says. “And I don’t want them to get sick with dengue. This is a benefit for all the family and we will be more protected.”
Fellow host, Francisca Osuna Mayoral, agrees. “There have been many cases of diseases transmitted by mosquitoes and I don’t want this to happen anymore,” she says. “My children have mentioned the success of this program in other places [and] we decided to support it.
”The World Mosquito Program is working in partnership with health authorities in Baja California Sur to implement this project in La Paz. Local and national government officials are also offering support to our long-term sustainable alternative to current vector control approaches.
The World Mosquito Program would like to thank the Candeo Fund of Christy Walton for providing financial support for the first stage of the project in Mexico through the International Community Foundation (ICF).
With the support of the community and health authorities, the World Mosquito Program aims to provide communities with long-lasting protection from dengue, Zika, chikungunya and yellow fever viruses.