Puerto Rico Research Trust and CDC join in fight against Zika
SAN JUAN – The Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust (PRSTRT) announced the establishment of the Vector Control Unit of Puerto Rico in collaboration with the Center for Diseases Control & Prevention (CDC) to carry out an integrated vector management program to reduce the number of aedes aegypti mosquitoes and develop monitoring and control processes, surveillance systems, and a communications strategy.
The initiative goes hand in hand with the Trust’s mission to invest, facilitate and build capacities to advance Puerto Rico’s economy, science, technology and its industrial base.
Earlier this year, the ‘Brain Trust for Tropical Diseases Research & Prevention,’ one of the PRSTRT’s programs, at its second meeting coordinated a technical workshop on vector control (mosquitoes and other insects). Forty-seven epidemiologists and experts in tropical diseases including experts from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), discussed and proposed potential strategies and solutions for the reduction and eventual elimination of aedes aegypti, according to a statement.
They agreed that one of the major steps to achieve the goal of controlling mosquitoes and other insects was the creation of an autonomous entity responsible for the integrated management of vector control. This type of vector control unit exists in many cities and counties stateside and other countries.
In June, CDC Director Thomas Frieden and Gov. Alejandro García Padilla signed a memorandum of understanding that supported the creation of the unit vectors of Puerto Rico. The executive order issued by the governor’s office subsequently established the legal basis for its creation and designates the PRSTRT as the entity in charge of the development of this unit, the statement said.
The aedes aegypti mosquito is responsible for dengue, chikungunya and Zika viruses.
“This Vector Control Unit will work collaboratively with community groups, municipalities, government agencies and different professional organizations to implement an integrated strategy that will include mobilization and community participation, development of technical infrastructure and information systems for monitoring and control mosquitoes that would facilitate their reduction,” the Trust said.
Lucy Crespo, CEO of the Trust, also announced that the Vector Control Unit will soon begin recruiting professionals in the areas of entomology, biology, chemistry, computing and communications to help implement the program.