Better safe . . .
The fear of being bitten by the Aedes aegypti mosquito is bugging Bajans so much that they are snatching up all the insect repellents and insecticides they can get their hands on.
In fact, the demand is so great that it has created shortages of some products.
With cases of chikungunya climbing every day, along with dengue fever, Barbadians are not leaving anything to chance and supermarket managers are reporting they can’t keep these products that fight these two mosquito-borne illnesses on the shelves.
John Taylor, divisional general manager for manufacturing and services for Goddard Enterprises, which owns aerosol product manufacturer McBride Caribbean Ltd, said they had seen about a 30 per cent increase in sales of insect repellents and insecticides over the last four months.
He said the spike was particularly evident in the last few weeks when there was a big outbreak in Jamaica.
McBride Caribbean ships across the Caribbean to at least 23 markets.
“This is a region-wide problem. It has affected a lot of countries in the Caribbean and we have seen increases in sales in July, August and September,” said Taylor, noting that countries including St Lucia, Dominican Republic, Haiti and Guyana receive McBride products.
“Consumers are becoming more au fait with the use of insect repellents. People traditionally used insecticides but now, in addition to the sprays, people are using repellents. People will spray their rooms with a product like Bop but they will use a product like Go! on their bodies. This is a change for a lot of people who are now using repellents.”
Managing director at Massy Distribution, Randall Banfield, yesterday reported there was a heightened demand for these products to match the sense of real concern among the Barbadian public.
He noted that they have seen the demand for repellents and insecticides increase dramatically over the last eight weeks, while in the last three weeks, the increase has been “exponential”.
“There is a sense of urgency, where customers need these things now, and there is a hoarding almost by some customers because of what is going on,” he said. This, he added, has created a shortage in some products like Baygon.
He said Massy Distribution, which also supplies brands like Vape and Off, was doing all it could to ensure customers had access to all the various products.
“We are doing everything we can to ensure that customers have their choice of product, including accelerating the opening of containers with product, ordering even more product and also flying in more product,” he said.
Banfield noted there was also a need to control the locations where mosquito larvae can hatch.
Keisha Franklyn, floor manager at Massy Stores SuperCentre, told the WEEKEND NATION on Wednesday that they have a challenge keeping products to ward off mosquitoes on the shelves.
She said contact repellents which are applied directly to the skin, coils, sprays and plug-ins were being snapped up by shoppers.
“People are trying to protect themselves as much as possible. Last week we brought in citronella candles and they didn’t last on the shelves. Some people are buying these items by the dozen. Some are also buying repellents by the cans so they don’t run out,” she said.
Operations manager at ShopSmart, Mark Niles, said their big movers were also citronella candles, sprays and repellents. He said they had also brought in electronic swatters which sold out in days.
“Bajans are trying anything that will help get rid of mosquitoes. It is a real fear among people and they are stocking up on anything that will kill or repel mosquitoes,” he said.
“There has been a spike in sales because people just don’t want to come down with these illnesses spread by the mosquitoes,” added Niles.
A manager at Jordans Supermarkets also reported there was a “drastic increase” in sales at all branches. She said sprays were the fastest moving items, but noted that coils were also in high demand.
Michael Trotman, a director of the Bridge Supermarket in St George, said insect repellents were a priority for many of his customers, noting that some stock were moving off the shelves at top speed.
“If people are moving from one environment to another, like from home to school or work, you still want to be protected, so people are buying these things that they know will work and we have to be restocking very frequently.”
Minister of Health John Boyce reported on Wednesday that the number of confirmed chikungunya cases in Barbados now stood at 49, while there were another 200 suspected cases on record. He acknowledged that the record might not represent the true numbers because some people were not seeking medical attention, choosing instead to treat themselves at home.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Joy St John said the Ministry of Health now had notification of chikungunya cases in ten parishes. She added that the testing protocol had been changed to focus primarily on high-risk groups, represented by children under 15, adults over 60, and pregnant women.
She urged Barbadians to do all in their power to protect themselves from being bitten by infected mosquitoes, including getting rid of breeding sites around their properties and spraying their homes to eliminate adult mosquitoes.