Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 28th 2014 Contents GERARD BEST
Everything about chikungunya
is painful. Even the virus s name
comes from a Kimakonde word
describing the contortions of some-
one suffering severe joint ache.
Fever, rash, cramps, headache, nau-
sea and fatigue are just some of the
symptoms of the mosquito-borne
Nor is tracking the spread of the
disease across the Caribbean any
easier. English-language reports on
the transmission of the virus at the
sub-regional level are put out by
public health authorities, including
the Caribbean Regional Public Health
Agency (Carpha), the Pan American
Health Organization (Paho) and the
Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
But keeping up with information
from all of these sources can be
time-consuming, especially if you
just want to keep an eye on the
spread of the disease in your own
country, or get a sense of the broader
"It s easy to point a finger and
criticise but I thought it would be
better to actually demonstrate that
something better could be done,"
said Vijay Datadin, founder and lead
consultant at Guyana-based
Datadin should know. He s made
a career of applying geographic infor-
mation systems (GIS) to the complex
interrelationships between human
and natural resources.
"When I looked at the outputs of
Carpha, Paho and even the CDC, I
thought they could be enhanced.
Specifically, Paho is putting out data
reports in PDF format, which is really
less than ideal. Where there are
maps, they could be made more
informative and charts would help
citizens understand the situation
more easily. I felt it could be done
better, because they re still doing it
in the old-fashioned way."
Datadin is co-lead on a new open
data project that aims to fix two
major pain points associated with
the "old-fashioned way" of sharing
public health data.
First, as a one-stop resource for
official chikungunya numbers, the
online tracker seeks to cut out the
hassle of having to check multiple
Web sites, in order to get the latest
• Twitter: @GuardianTT • Web: guardian.co.tt
Previously we looked at different ways to deal with
the chikungunya virus, from vaccines to bush medicines.
But of course, the only sure way to deal with
chikungunya is not to get it. That means stopping those
pesky mosquitoes from reaching you, to bite you and
infect you. Here are some tips on how to do just that.
• Encourage the bats. A single bat can eat up to
1,200 insects every hour, and each bat usually eats
6,000 to 8,000 insects each night. Now that's a lot of
mosquitoes! Building a bat house in the back yard can
be your new hobby (lots of instructions online)---and
you'll also be helping the environment, as bats pollinate
many delicious fruits.
• Invest in a fan. The kind with wind speeds so high,
it's like being in a wind tunnel which ripples the skin
over your cheeks. (This advice need not apply if you
have air-conditioning, securely closing windows and/or
insect screens.) Aim fan at bed; combine with
lightweight but hole-free sheet. Cover up totally, like a
funeral shroud, with just a tiny funnel opening for your
nose to breathe (purists may want to use a straw or
other breathing apparatus). Better yet, use two fans
(angled well for maximum blast).
• Light a cockset (mosquito coil). You will smell like
nasty old socks in the morning---and the smoke fumes
can get overpowering---but it kills mosquitoes.
Advantages: Cheap, portable, effective. Disadvantages:
Some scientists say the extra chemicals they put in
coils are bad for you, even carcinogenic---like smoking
100 cigarettes a night! So research your product.
• Make your own garlic spray. Mosquitoes hate the
pungent smell. You can crush up a few cloves of garlic,
boil it in water (or just soak for a few hours in the sun),
and use the water to spray around the room. If you are
adventurous, you can even spray it on yourself, or make
your own garlic perfume. This will not only keep
mosquitoes and vampires away, it will also limit
unwanted attention from the opposite sex.
• Use neem oil. Mosquitoes hate the smell; and neem
oil is natural and will not make you sick. A study
published in the Journal of the American Mosquito
Control Association found that mixing neem oil with
coconut oil is a really effective way to keep mosquitoes
at bay. Neem is a potent antibacterial, anti-fungal,
antiviral and anti-protozoal agent. Just mix neem oil and
coconut oil in equal portions, and rub it on all your
exposed body parts. Said to repel mosquitoes for eight
• Use other natural oils. Use these on your skin, or in
a vaporiser: lavender, mint, tea tree, or a 1:1 mix of
eucalyptus and lemon oils. These all repel mosquitoes
naturally; and they are safer than Deet, for those wary
of chemicals or with allergic, sensitive skin.
• Burn citronella candles. They contain citronella oil
made from tropical lemon-scented plants
(Cymbopogon, various species) that are native to Asia,
where this oil has long been used as an insect repellent.
The candles have been shown to reduce mosquito bites
by up to 42 per cent while being burned, according to a
study done by researcher Guy Surgeoner at the
University of Guelph in Ontario.
• Plant tulsi, mint, marigold, lemon, neem, catnip,
and citronella grass. Plant them especially near
windows. These plants are all effective in preventing
the breeding of mosquitoes. Tulsi plants are especially
good for killing mosquito larvae and keeping
mosquitoes away---tulsi is recommended by both
ancient Ayurvedic medicine and the more modern
Parasitology Research Journal (study published April 25,
Bonus: you can use the tulsi leaves in teas and lots of
homeopathic remedies, too.
• Use camphor. Camphor is a waxy white solid found
in the wood of the camphor laurel, a large evergreen
tree from Asia (especially in Taiwan, Sumatra and
Borneo). Camphor also occurs in other plants like dried
rosemary leaves (up to 20 per cent camphor).
Today, camphor can be synthetically made from oil of
turpentine. Vicks contains camphor, which, among other
properties, works wonders to repel insects. Some say
camphor is the best natural mosquito repellent. Light
camphor in a room and close all the doors and windows.
Leave it this way for about 15-20 minutes and go back
to a mosquito-free environment.
• Keep little fish in any permanent ponds or tubs.
Do you have a permanent small outdoor pond you like?
Or even a tub of water outside where you keep a pet
turtle? Or a big tank you use to collect rainwater,
because you are fed up with Wasa? Then make sure
these ponds, tubs or tanks are stocked with a few small
fishes. (Guppies or platies eat up any mosquito larvae---
but are prolific breeders.)
• Protect the good critters. In your yards, never use
broad-spectrum insecticides, which often contain toxic
pyrethrins. Pyrethrins kill off the good guys---the
dragonflies, ants, ground beetles, spiders, water striders,
frogs and snails that all help to eat up too many
mosquitoes. (Pyrethrins in insecticides can also make
some people and pets sick.)
• Clear the yard. Once and for all, get rid of all those
rusty hubcaps, old dustbins, broken soap-powder
buckets, empty beer and rum bottles, empty fast-food
boxes and old toilet bowls littering your yard.
And clean out clogged gutters and drains. Anything
that can fill with water can breed mosquitoes. This
includes any objects that can hold as little as one
tablespoon of water for seven to ten days---the time it
takes for eggs to hatch and larvae to mature.
---Compiled by Shereen Ali
TOP 12 WAYS TO SCARE AWAY MOSQUITOES
You can track the spread of chikungunya by using the T&T Guardian's tracker that was a joint initiative with
Caribbean GIS and the paper's new media unit.
The task of tracking ChikV
Continues on Page A30
Vijay Datadin has been using
information from places like
Carpha, Paho and the CDC to create
maps that track outbreaks like
The Last Ship, Sting's musical about
shipbuilding in north-east England, has opened
on Broadway to respectable, if qualified
The New York Times described it as
"ambitious, earnest...and seductive" while
identifying some "nagging flaws."
Time Out New York, meanwhile, said it was
"rollicking and often glorious" but lacked
Sting, former frontman with The Police,
described watching Sunday's opening night as
"an out-of-body experience."
"You relinquish a lot of control," the 63-year-
old told the Playbill Web site. "But all of these
people bring something to the process I can't."
Written by John Logan and Brian Yorkey,
The Last Ship features songs from Sting's
2013 album of the same name.
Newcastle-born actor Jimmy Nail and
Rachel Tucker, a finalist on BBC One talent
show I'd Do Anything, are among the cast of
Joe Mantello's production.
Set in Sting's home town of Wallsend, the
musical tells of a group of unemployed
shipbuilders who take over a closed factory to
build one final vessel.
Its main character is Gordon, a prodigal son
who returns after 14 years to find the town
and its community close to economic collapse.
"Melancholy tones of sorrow and regret
saturate this highly personal and intensely felt
musical play," wrote Variety's critic Marilyn
Entertainment Weekly's Kyle Anderson,
however, said the show "trots out a series of
dirges that lack the dynamism necessary to
keep audiences fully engaged." (BBC)
Sting musical opens on Broadway
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