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Serving the South Florida Community Since 1974

Zika Virus: 6 things you need to know.


1. No cases transmitted in the U.S — so far

So far, all of the cases of the Zika virus reported in the United States have been confined to people who contracted while traveling in areas known to have outbreaks. There have been no recorded cases of Zika transmission from mosquitoes or human-to-human, but health officials are preparing for such instances.

2. Put old tires, water containers out with your trash

The chief way the public can help reduce the local mosquito population is through removing items where water can stagnate and hold mosquito eggs. Old tires and other bulky trash can be put out for garbage collection on the second pick-up day of the week. We recommend walking your yard at least once a week to address any standing water and vigorously scrubbing bird baths or any other containers to remove mosquito eggs.

3. No planes doesn’t mean no fight

The New Orleans Mosquito Termite and Rodent Control Board has been engaged in preventing the spread of the Zika virus since first learning travel cases were reported in the Western Hemisphere in the summer of 2014, director Claudia Riegel said. So why aren’t we seeing airplanes spraying to reduce the threat?

First, aerial spraying is typically used to kill adult mosquitoes, which don’t reach their peak population until the hottest summer months. In the meantime, the city is attacking nesting mosquitoes and their larvae with ground treatments, both granular and sprayer-applied.

4. Commercial mosquito sprays last 21 days

Experts specializing in mosquito control say the most effective insecticides for treating mosquitoes and their eggs last for about three weeks, with sunlight — not rain — the biggest factor in breaking down the compounds. This is why most services will treat homes starting in the spring and continue well into the late fall, especially in years like this one when a mild winter didn’t failed to kill off adult mosquitoes.

5. Mosquitoes can develop resistance to insecticides

Entomologists who study mosquitoes are finding that pyrethroids, the most common ingredient in insecticides, prove effective against the two mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus. But over time, insects have shown to develop immunity to certain applications.

6. Don’t forget about West Nile virus

Although cases of West Nile virus have declined in recent years, data show peaks and valleys in the number since formal tracking started more than a decade ago. Several species of mosquito can carry West Nile and they are most active at night.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons