ZAP Helps Households to Take Action against Mosquitoes

ZAP works with households to remove mosquito breeding grounds to prevent the spread of the Zika virus

The first cases of Zika transmission in Honduras were reported in December 2015. Despite the decline in suspected cases, the virus still remains a serious threat. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is working to improve Honduras’ national capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to vector-borne diseases. Through USAID’s Zika AIRS Project (ZAP), households are being encouraged to adopt new practices and attitudes that will lead to reduction in proliferation of mosquito populations. ZAP is working with the government and communities in Honduras and other countries in Central America to reduce the density of mosquito vectors responsible for Zika infections and transmission of other diseases caused by arboviruses, such as dengue and chikungunya.

ZAP conducts routine household visits to sensitize the community about diseases caused by mosquitoes and what they can do to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in their environment. In Choluteca, Honduras, Geraldina Soriano operates a small neighborhood store in her house to generate income for her family. During a visit to Soriano’s house, a stack of cases of around 500 empty soda and beer bottles was observed in the backyard by the ZAP team. Soriano keeps the empty bottles there for pick up by the delivery company after the liquid content is sold to her customers.

Geraldina Soriano, a store owner, empties water collected in bottles, after learning from ZAP vector control technicians that standing water serves as ideal breeding grounds for mosquitoes, such as the Aedes aegypti, which transmits the Zika virus. Photo: Richard Fisher

ZAP personnel engaged with Soriano in a series of questions and answers, including: Are there mosquitoes? Do they bother you? When? Where do they come from? Through the discussion, Soriano understood that rain water had collected in the empty bottles and provided a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Soriano immediately began to empty the water collected in every single bottle to prevent the mosquitoes from breeding. One of ZAP’s interventions is to empower households with information, knowledge and understanding that will promote behavioral change to maintain a clean environment free of breeding sites for mosquitoes. This is done through household visits where members of the households are sensitized and empowered to take action. It is anticipated that households will take ownership of this and promote good environmental practices. ZAP vector control technicians engage with each and every household owner in the community about mosquitoes, Zika, breeding sites, and standing water to help induce, facilitate and catalyze changes in household behavior and reduce breeding sites for mosquitoes.

ZAP is also carrying out larviciding of domestic household water sources and other standing water sources in and around the household to bring about mosquito source reduction. Larviciding involves the application of a biological agent that kills mosquito larvae in water. Many households have water storage receptacles or water containers to store water for domestic use. This creates viable breeding conditions for mosquitoes to proliferate. ZAP’s larviciding initiative leads to a reduction in mosquito population density and disease transmission rates.

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