WITH controversies surrounding the Dengue vaccine – Dengvaxia and increasing number of suspected dengue cases in Pangasinan, the fisheries expert at the National Integrated Fisheries Technology and Development Center of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR-NIFTDC) advocates the use of a “biological” but cheaper way to battle the virus-carrying mosquito.
BFAR-NIFTDC Chief Dr. Westly Rosario said the use of mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis) is ideal in areas where mosquitos breed their larvae and are susceptible to carry the deadly dengue virus.
“It is important to let the people know that we have a kind of fish that can live in places where the mosquitos breed and this for free,” says Rosario.
It is known locally in Pangasinan as “Itar” or “Tuyong” in Ilocano and “Katapa” in Tagalog. Generally, males reach 1.5 in (3.8 cm) and females 2.5 in (6.4 cm). These fish are a livebearer species, and as such, the females are larger and more rounded than the males.
Mosquitofish eats large amount of mosquito larvae that can reduce mosquito population and reduce the prevalence of diseases spread by mosquitos. They are known natural predators of mosquitos and were used in other countries to eradicate mosquito-born diseases like Malaria.
In 2012, Dr. Rosario introduced the mosquitofish in Pangasinan as an alternative biological solution to battle the growing occurrence of dengue in the province. But this was met with opposing views from the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR) claiming that mosquitofish is an “invasive specie” and can be a threat to the environment.
Rosario explained, “although it is true that the mosquitofish is invasive in nature, it has been with us for so many decades and never it became a problem and for an instance, a threat to the environment.”
He said mosquitofish can easily breed and anybody can avail it from us at the center, for free. It should be reintroduced systematically and in strategic areas to be more effective against dengue and other mosquito-born diseases.
Areas with high concentration of people like schools and communities with abandoned water ponds, canals; areas where water is stagnant and where dengue has been prevalent should be a priority. (Jojo Riñoza)
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