Buzzing to a City Near You: Zika Virus
AMCA Warns Public of Exotic Mosquito-borne Disease Spreading in Caribbean
MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. – February 9, 2016 - Zika virus, a pathogen transmitted by mosquitoes, has seemingly established itself in South America and the Caribbean and is now threatening the U.S. Cases have been reported in Florida, Illinois, Texas and Hawaii in patients having traveled to Central and South America, where they acquired the virus through mosquito bites. It’s unclear whether the virus could establish itself in the U.S., but the mosquitoes that transmit this disease, the Asian Tiger Mosquito (Aedes albopictus) and the Yellow Fever Mosquito (Aedes aegypti) are found in southeastern and Midwestern states. Both species lay their eggs in containers such as cans, discarded tires and other items that hold water close to human habitation.
“This is a most discomfiting development, and reminds us that some of the most exotic mosquito-borne diseases are but a few hours plane flight from the continental United States,” says Joseph Conlon, Technical Advisor of the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA).
The virus was first isolated from monkeys in the Zika Forest in Uganda in 1947. Although rarely fatal, the symptoms of rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis, muscle pain and headache can be debilitating and may persist for several weeks. Alarmingly, exposure of a fetus to Zika virus during pregnancy has been known to result in birth defects such as microcephaly, a deformation of the infants head often associated with various significant developmental problems.
Public health departments and mosquito control districts in the southeast are gearing up public education, mosquito control and laboratory programs to meet the threat. “Traditional mosquito methods of truck-mounted and aerial sprays are ineffective in controlling the species of mosquitoes that transmit Zika,” says Conlon. “The best way to prevent Zika from establishing itself is through the removal of water-bearing containers. Sanitation is key.”
In the meantime, individuals can do their part by eliminating water sources providing mosquito- breeding habitat around their homes. Bites can be prevented through the use of long-sleeve clothing and EPA-registered repellents such as DEET, picaridin, IR3535 and oil of lemon-eucalyptus. It’s particularly important for women who are pregnant or attempting to get pregnant to avoid travelling to areas of active Zika infection. Further recommendations can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/zika/
About the American Mosquito Control Association
Celebrating 81 years of protecting public health in 2016, the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) is an international not-for-profit public service professional association. With over 1,600 members worldwide in over 50 countries, AMCA is international in scope, and includes individuals and public agencies engaged in mosquito control, mosquito research and related activities. Please visit AMCA online at www.mosquito.organd follow AMCA on Twitter @AMCAupdates.