French army fights dengue in Caribbean departments
The French army has been deployed to the French Caribbean departments of Martinique and Guadeloupe to help fight a dengue epidemic, which has been spreading since December. At least 13 people have died of the mosquito-borne virus since the beginning of February.
Starting Monday, a special army force of 69 people will help local teams already working on destroying mosquitoes and their breeding grounds around schools before they open on 3 September.
“This operation… will facilitate the intensification of current anti-mosquito work and the destruction of breeding grounds,” the health and overseas territories ministries said in a joint statement.
The operation will start in the south of Martinique, where the epidemic began.
The health ministry also called on the national audiovisual council to allow public service announcements to be broadcast on television in the coming weeks, and provided more funding to regional health agencies to intensify anti-mosquito campaigns.
People are being encouraged to get rid of stagnant water and other places that could serve as mosquito breeding grounds. They are also being encouraged to wear covering clothes, to use insect repellent and to sleep under mosquito netting.
Guadeloupe has been the most affected, with some 33,000 cases reported since December 2009. Martinique has reported 25,600 cases.
According to official statistics, there were 3,400 new cases in Martinique in the first week of August and 4,000 in Guadeloupe. The second week there were 4,160 cases in Martinique and 3,700 in Guadeloupe.
France’s overseas departments in the Caribbean regularly experience dengue epidemics, but since 2005 they have become more frequent.