Faced with the hospitalization of a Venezuelan national who is being treated for malaria at the San Fernando Teaching Hospital, Cedros residents are now calling on the government to do immediate screening, spraying, and testing in the southwestern peninsula to prevent any Malaria outbreak. The victim, identified at Manuel Brunto, is receiving treatment at Ward 11, after blood tests confirmed he was suffering from Malaria. Malaria is a life-threatening mosquito-borne blood disease caused by a Plasmodium parasite. It is transmitted to humans through the bite of the Anopheles mosquito. Once an infected mosquito bites a human, the parasites multiply in the host's liver before infecting and destroying red blood cells. Sixteen cases have already been reported for the year by the Health Ministry and residents of Cedros and Icacos are now calling on the Ministry of Health to begin immediate spraying of their communities. In an interview, councilor for Cedros Shankar Teelucksingh said Venezuelans were continuing to enter T&T legally and illegally in droves. "We want to know how many more Venezuelans are coming into the country with Malaria. Both the Ministry of National Security and the Ministry of Health must do urgent work to prevent any outbreak of malaria. Cedros is the first place that is going to be affected. Venezuelans are migrating to Icacos and other areas. We need protection," Teelucksingh said. He also said he had called Red Cross International with the hope that they too can offer assistance. Teelucksingh said house to house monitoring must be done in areas where there is a surplus of Venezuelan migrants. "We need testing kits and other testing devices to detect and quarantine infected people who are diagnosed. We also need a mobile unit doing house checks to see where they are and have testing and medication for treatment of both local and foreign visitors. They need to equip the port with necessary scanners and blood testing equipment," Teelucksingh said. He added that immediate spraying of mosquitoes was required in Boodram Trace, Lower and Upper Icacos, Point Coco, Lalla Trace, Bilwah Trace, Ramdhanie Trace and Grand Chemin Extension. Saying mosquitoes were breeding undeterred, Teelucksingh said the Ministry must take precautions to safeguard the lives of residents. At Lower Icacos, Dilisa Garib said residents were very worried about the potential outbreak of malaria. "There is a lot of bush and abandoned buildings in Icacos and Cedros. The grass is not being cut. Icacos is below sea level so when rain falls it takes a long time to drain out. Mosquitoes breed in these waters. There are also illegal animals being brought into the peninsula. They too are bringing in sickness," Garib said. She also added that apart from the mosquito problem, there was still a severe water crisis in the region. Another resident Abhiman Ackool said the authorities must do regular spraying in the entire peninsula. "Whenever they do spraying, which is very rare, they spray during the day. This makes no sense because the mosquitoes come out later in the evening," Ackool said. He called on Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh to take interest in the communities in case there is an outbreak of malaria such as what is currently occurring in Venezuela. In a Reuters article in April, the World Health Organisation reported that malaria was spreading rapidly in crisis-hit Venezuela, with more than an estimated 406,000 cases in 2017, up roughly 69 percent from a year before, the largest increase worldwide. The WHO said Venezuelan migrants fleeing the economic and social crisis were carrying the mosquito-borne disease into Brazil and other parts of Latin America. It urged authorities to provide free screening and treatment regardless of their legal status to avoid further spread. Contacted yesterday Deyalsingh referred questions to Chief Medical Officer Dr Rohan Parasram who said most of the 16 malaria cases were Venezuelan nationals and citizens who visited Venezuela and returned to T&T. He said the port authority had standard procedures regarding malaria and anyone exhibiting symptoms are tested. He said it was difficult to do house to house testing as deployments of resources had to be done in an effective manner. Parasram said once a person tests positive, teams are sent into the community to do screening on relatives and neighbours. "The fact that we haven't had a large influx of cases means this system is working. The threat is not as large as they are making it out to be," Parasram said. He added that the suggestions raised by the residents will be considered by the Ministry.