KARACHI: To overcome the alarming spread of dengue in the province, especially Karachi, the commissioner has ordered the authorities to throw Guppy fish in stagnant water bodies.
This popular aquarium fish will eat the larvae of the dengue mosquito, officials pointed out, with hopes that destroying the breeding grounds of the mosquitoes is the most effective way to control dengue fever. Karachi Commissioner Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui has, therefore, initiated a drive to throw Guppy fish in all stagnant water bodies, ponds and lakes on Sunday.
The drive was initiated by throwing fish in all places where water is stories, such as containers at tyre shops and plant nurseries in Clifton. The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) helped throw the fish in these areas. “The Guppy fish also known as the millionfish is one of the many ways to tackle the spread of dengue fever,” the commissioner said.
Some people use stored water for their daily needs but these water containers prove to be major breeding grounds of mosquitoes, much like ponds and freshwater lakes, he said. “We advise people to raise fish in these water sources to prevent the larvae from nurturing and spreading the dengue virus,” he said. “We believe we can control dengue fever this year, if all communities commit to destroying mosquito breeding areas.”
According to the health department, there have been a total of 1,250 cases of dengue across Sindh in just the first week of September. Eleven of these patients in Karachi died while 92 deaths occurred in the rest of the province.
The commissioner was of the opinion that the number of cases will likely rise if effective measures are not implemented to fight the outbreak. Due to active precautionary measures taken by civic bodies, the number of cases across Sindh has decreased from 33 per cent to 11 per cent, Siddiqui pointed out, adding that the Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah and local bodies and health minster Owais Muzaffar stressed on extensive fumigation and awareness campaigns.
The government has already ensured the availability of bloods kits at all large hospitals while diagnostic centres had been established to curb this fatal disease across Sindh, he added. The KMC has also initiated a campaign to inform its one million consumers about the dangers of dengue fever through its municipal utility tax bills.
Guppy fish don’t lay eggs’
The mosquito fish, Gambusia affinis, is a native of the southern and eastern parts of the United States. It was originally introduced in California as early 1922. Soon after, they became one of the most effective non-insecticidal and chemical methods of controlling mosquitoes.
Guppy fish do not lay eggs and give birth to live young ones, therefore these fish do not require special breeding environment to deposit their eggs. They breed throughout the summer months and contain between 50 and 100 young fish.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 16th, 2013.