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‘SíScreens’ to evaluate efficacy of screens against mosquito-borne diseases

The Puerto Rico Vector Control Unit (PRVCU) has launched the “SíScreens” project, which aims to evaluate the effectiveness of screens on doors and windows in preventing mosquito-borne diseases, such as dengue, in Ponce.

The initiative is a collaboration with Ponce Health Sciences University and the Puerto Rico Health Department, and is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

PRVCU said the SíScreens project supports its goal of protecting public health by managing vector-borne diseases and minimizing their effects on the community.

Through proactive efforts, research and community engagement, PRVCU is committed to employing innovative strategies for disease prevention and the well-being of Puerto Rico’s residents.

“The ‘SíScreens’ project will help us understand how to build and install screens that are more cost effective, easier to use and keep clean, and become better at preventing the spread of mosquito-borne diseases,” said Grayson Brown, executive director of PRVCU.

Mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue, Zika and chikungunya continue to pose a significant public health threat in Puerto Rico. PRVCU recognizes the importance of a comprehensive approach to disease prevention, combining community involvement, scientific research and evidence-based measures for prevention.

The “SíScreens” project combines these elements to address the pressing issue of mosquito-borne diseases and their impact on the community sustainably.

Michelle Medeiros, deputy director of the Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes, noted that the Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Trust is the first in Puerto Rico to obtain funding from its Technical Studies grant program. She said the office “is very excited to fund the study, which will evaluate the effectiveness of screened windows and doors in preventing the spread of vector borne diseases like dengue.”

How do ‘SíScreens’ work?
Community involvement is crucial to the success of the “SíScreens” project, organizers said.

The participants need to be enrolled in the Community Organized to Prevent of Arboviruses (COPA) project, designed to unite more than 90 communities in 14 areas in Ponce to prevent infections transmitted by mosquitoes.

Using a randomized approach, selected COPA households are invited to join the “SíScreens” initiative. Upon evaluation, homes can be randomly chosen for one of the two project groups: intervention or control.

Intervention homes receive screens, mosquito aspirations and yard inspections, with a minimum of five visits planned annually. Control homes don’t get screens, facilitating comparisons, but are incentivized for mosquito collection and yard checkups, expecting at least three annual visits. These insights will assess screen effectiveness and pinpoint potential breeding spots.

The project also prioritizes educating the community. Participants get resources about mosquito bite prevention, repellent usage, standing water elimination and personal protection.

By equipping individuals with knowledge and empowering them to implement preventive measures, PRVCU can create a collective defense against mosquito-borne diseases, project officials said.

“We believe that community engagement and collaboration are essential to achieve sustainable mosquito control. The ‘SíScreens’ project is an example of this approach, fostering partnerships between public health agencies, academic institutions, and the community,” said Julieanne Miranda-Bermúdez, program manager of PRVCU.

“By working together, we can effectively address the challenges posed by mosquito-borne diseases and develop comprehensive strategies for long-term disease prevention. We’re excited to launch the ‘SíScreens’ project and engage the community in this important initiative,” she said.

“By participating in this project, individuals and households can help reduce mosquito-borne disease transmission in Puerto Rico. We urge everyone to join us in creating a safer and healthier Puerto Rico,” Miranda-Bermúdez added.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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