COOK ISLANDS NO LONGER USING CONTROVERSIAL RESLIN

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Safer pesticide used to control mosquitoes

By Helen Grieg

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, April 22, 2009) – Public health has advised Cook Islands News it no longer uses the insecticide known as reslin to spray for mosquitoes.

This week the ministry of health has carried out spraying of pyrethrum insecticide in vaka Puaikura.

The ministry now uses pyrethrum after concerns about the environmental effects of Reslin were raised with it last year.

Claims had been made that reslin was toxic and could even cause cancer if exposed to large amounts of it.

Spraying in Puaikura was seen as the only option after there were 160 probable cases of mosquito-borne dengue fever reported from the vaka.

The new range of safer natural chemicals to use on mosquitoes and their larvae has been sourced from New Zealand. Public health is now using more VectoBac too -- a natural bacteria that can kill mosquito larvae in large areas of water. The safer chemicals arrived this February.

Pyrethrum is one of nature’s natural insecticides. It comes from the dried flowers of two members of the chrysanthemum flower family. It is used in many non toxic fly sprays. Pyrethrum affects the nervous system of many insects including mosquitoes when they come into contact with it.

According to public health pyrethrum breaks down very quickly – about two hours in sunlight.

There are still potential side effects for pyrethrum including eye, skin, and throat irritation and nausea in people. Residents of the Puaikura vaka have been advised to seek medical treatment if any of these symptoms arise and to wash fruit and vegetables from the sprayed area before eating them.

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