Colombian Red Cross Installs Ovitraps to Promote Community-Based Surveillance for the Zika Virus

The Colombian Red Cross is currently piloting the use of ovitraps in 5 departments in the country. Over the past few weeks, Red Cross staff and volunteers have installed ovitraps in several communities and homes to measure the impact of vector control actions at community level. This is part of the community based surveillance approach adapted by the Community Action on Zika (CAZ) Project, implemented by the national society, the International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Save the Children and with the generous support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). In addition, these activities are done in coordination with the National Health Institute and local Health Authorities.

The CAZ Project is working on an approach that empowers the community to support health authorities in vector surveillance, by including it as part of the Community-Based Surveillance strategy. Ovitraps also make up part of the project monitoring cycle. One of the main objectives of the project is to reduce mosquito breeding sites and promote positive behavioral changes in communities to prevent the spread of vector-borne viruses. As less breeding site are available, the ovitraps should begin housing more and more mosquito eggs.

“We first identify the areas and homes where we will install the ovitraps in the community. Then, we introduce ourselves in people’s homes and explain the initiative to them, as well as provide them with information on the Zika virus. If they agree to be part of these activities, then we install the ovitrap and come back to monitor the presence of mosquito eggs every 7 days.” – says Maritza Peña, Colombian Red Cross Volunteer in the Meta Department.

During the first phase of the intervention, volunteers install ovitraps and monitor them for 8 weeks, ensuring that the community understands the process and feels comfortable housing the ovitrap in their home. During the second stage, the Red Cross will implement several vector control and awareness activities with the communities; using the ovitrap to measure the impact of these actions. Additionally, volunteers will transfer knowledge to communities in how to monitor mosquito populations through ovitraps.

As the CAZ Project takes on a holistic and community-centered approach to Zika prevention, monitoring through ovitraps is part of a larger range of activities that will take place over 3 years in 5 countries in the region.

What Is an Ovitrap?

Ovitraps are designed to attract female mosquitoes and create breeding sites. Typically, an ovitrap consists of a black container filled with water and grass and two wooden sticks, such as a popsicle stick or a tongue depressor. This container is then placed in darker area inside the home and reviewed on a weekly basis for mosquito eggs and larvae.