Thursday, June 14, 2012


Mosquitos are an issue here… there is Dengue in the country (though not so much in Berlín – last year I think there were only 4 reported cases).
There is some education about how to lower the mosquito population – but it is very hard to actually eliminate all the 'standing water' locations in which they can breed.

Because they don’t need much.

I know I have to keep a close eye on the pila in my bathroom (the water reservoir that everyone has because water does not run every day).  When I come back from a trip to the States I frequently have to douse my pila with bleach.  And then I have to be careful for a few days with how I use that water.  My skin could burn or rash, my clothes could be ruined … but I’d rather do that than have it be a mosquito breeding ground.  There are times when I can see literally hundreds of ‘wigglers’ in my pila after being away for a couple of weeks.

I have taken pains to have a mosquito UN-friendly environment.  Long ago I screened my bathroom window as well as the window between my bedroom and the office.  And I keep my bedroom door closed at all times. 

The bathroom attached to the room next door to my bedroom shares my pila.  On that side, I have put a wooden shelf and screening over the top of the pila – secured with two heavy rocks.  This also prevents rat and lizard poo from falling into my pila.  I bet that was too much information … sorry. 

I always keep a close eye on my pila and scoop out any random ‘wigglers’ that I see.  I have mosquito netting over my bed. I find it to be a ‘necessary adornment.’ If I see a mosquito has snuck into my room … I go after it with a vengeance.  I have what looks like a tennis racket … it is ‘electrified’ by battery and serves as a portable mosquito zapper.  It’s quite effective actually.  And I confess I feel great satisfaction at the roasting of a mosquito.   

There is so much standing water in town.  I can do what I can in the spaces near me – but I have no control over my neighbors. 

There is a group of people (Civil Protection Committee) which takes it upon themselves to go door to door to fumigate.  They borrow from the town of Alegría (10 minutes up the road) a device that looks like a leaf blower on steroids.  They wear a surgical mask and bandana over their noses and mouths  but no other protection. 

Armed for bear ... or in this case ... mosquito

And they knock on your door – if you are home and want the service – they will enter your home and fumigate at no charge.  They do go door to door prior and ask for donations – we gave them $10 towards the gas for the machine.  Some people could only give a quarter – but as they said … every little bit helps to get the job done. 
They had a set date and time but they got rained out.  And we had no idea when they would reschedule. 

Turns out it was yesterday afternoon.  I thought I heard the machine next door – it is rather loud.  Then I saw a fog coming over the wall.  I warned the ladies but they didn’t believe me.  I decided to prepare  just in case what I saw was really what was happening.  I put all my toothpaste/toothbrush paraphernalia in a zip lock bag.  I also covered my electronics.  I actually put my laptop in a huge plastic bag and put it inside my wardrobe.  I put any bottles of medicines in a drawer (I don’t have much in that department).  I made sure I had no food lying around and my coffee cup was securely covered.

Sure enough, within about 10 minutes they rang the doorbell.  We needed to leave the house.  So we scooped up the Conures (parakeet type birds) … and stepped outside. 

What a smell. 

We waited about 10 minutes after they were done to go back in.  You have to wait for the fog to settle and the smell to dissipate.
Idalia, the conures, Blanca, Alejandro and fumigator supervisor waiting it out

Frankly, I really don’t think the home by home fumigating does much good.  Perhaps it kills a few larvae … and a few of the flying critters but when we were able to come back in again … and I opened up my bedroom to help the fog leave … I got strafed by a very pissed off mosquito.

And within 10 minutes … I had my usual gang of mosquito activity in my office.  They like to swarm behind me (between me and the back wall) and under my desk where my (sometime smelly) feet reside.  

So I turned on my fan to keep the air moving and continued on.  It took about a half hour for my office to not have a residual odor … and about 3 hours for the odor in my enclosed bedroom to totally clear out.  My headache went away after downing a couple of pure aspirin.

I really worry about the men who are doing the fumigating.  They spend HOURS in the midst of the fog with mosquito poison donated to them by the Berlín Health Clinic.  I hope they at least get free medical consultations!!


Esmerelda777 said...

Hi Kathy, I enjoyed this post as I experienced this first hand, too. We were living in rural Chalatenango and the blowers were coming by. We had just enough time to run out of the house - no covering anything. And my cat didnt run out, she ducked, so I went running for her. There were fumes everywhere, but she was OK, and stayed outside with us till it cleared out. You are right, the fumigation only does so much. Zancudos live in 'el monte' (weeds/bushes) also, so they're hard to stamp out. Kathy, you are a trooper. Thanks for the post.

Anonymous said...

Kathy, we got fumigated here last week!! But unlike the first time we went thru fumigation here, this time they also had someone driving in a truck giving a public health message, over a megaphpone, telling pp to clean their pila at least once a week with bleach, and watch for any objects that can collect water, etc. I think the megaphone message was good. We have no dengue in our neighborhood, but the town/city of Chalatenango has had a lot of cases. Also - question - can you guys get the little bags called "Abate" at the clinic? - they are bags with a larvacide in them that you put in the pila which help to prevent them from growing. Not a replacement for the weekly bleach wash, just a reinforcement that helps a lot.