Cuba has been successfully using biological measures to control mosquitoes and has managed to reduce its dengue burden substantially, according to Alfredo Estrada, a representative of Labiofam Biopharmaceutical Labs, a State-owned company in Cuba. Dr. Estrada, who is on a four-day visit to the city on an invitation by Trivandrum Agenda Taskforce to assess the dengue epidemic situation here, interacted with the Health Department officials and senior medical college faculty here on Tuesday.

He said that while all mosquito-control strategies such as source reduction, fogging, and indoor residual spraying were being used by Cuba, the use of Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti), a bio-larvicide, had been particularly successful in checking the mosquito population and that it could be safely used in drinking water also. Cuba had been helping Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and many other nations in mosquito control using Bti, he said.

Senior health officials, however, told The Hindu they were not quite convinced about the usefulness of Bti in the State. “Bti is one of the strategies that can be used in conjunction with other methods for mosquito control. It is not cost-effective for us; it has limited applicability as it can only be used to check vector breeding in large water tanks or waterbodies. We have innumerable unknown breeding sites in Nature, apart from the breeding that happens inside and outside homes in small receptacles,” a senior official said.