Mosquito Control: What You Should Know About Zika

July 26th, 2016

02_asian_tiger_mosquito_e.jpgWorldwide, mosquito-borne illnesses are a serious public health concern and affect nearly 700 million people each year. Zika virus (ZIKV), a relatively unknown and unstudied virus, has been a hot topic in the news over the past several months – and rightfully so. ZIKV has spread quickly through Latin America and the Caribbean, and over 800 travel related cases have been reported in the United States as of June 2016. There are major concerns surrounding Zika virus disease, particularly for pregnant women; therefore, it is important to understand ZIKV, how it’s spread and how it can be prevented.

Zika virus was first discovered in 1947 in the Zika Forest of Uganda. Prior to 2007, it had only been detected in central Africa and throughout Southeast Asia. However, in 2007, it was associated with a disease outbreak on Yap Island in the South Pacific, representing the first time it had spread outside of Asia. From there, it spread to South America with human cases first reported in 2014.

ZIKV is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes. In the Americas, it has only been linked to transmission by Aedes aegypti, the yellow fever mosquito. Recently in Africa, the virus was detected in Aedes albopictus, the Asian tiger mosquito; hence, it is possible that Ae. albopictus could vector the virus in the Americas. Both species of mosquito are considered container breeding, and larval habitats are often found around homes as well as areas with large amounts of discarded waste. In addition to transmission by mosquito bites, ZIKV can also be transmitted by a pregnant woman to her fetus and can be spread by a man to his sexual partners.

Most people who contract the Zika virus show no symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they typically begin with a mild headache and fever, and may also include diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, dizziness and body aches. Within a day or two, a rash may appear and can cover many parts of the body. Currently, there is no vaccine or cure for ZIKV and treatment is symptomatic and supportive.

One of the main fears of Zika virus infection, as many are aware, involves concern with pregnancy and perinatal infections. If a pregnant woman is infected with ZIKV, it may result in microcephaly, a birth defect causing underdevelopment of the head and brain in newborn children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has officially linked Zika virus to microcephaly; however, the organization is waiting for additional studies to confirm if cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome can also be linked to the virus. The World Health Organization has announced their belief that the virus can contribute to both diseases.

In the United States, the majority of Zika infection cases have been imported from travelers who contracted the virus in other countries and returned to the U.S. while infected. Competent vector mosquitoes, however, are found in the United States and a portion of the country, particularly the south, is at a higher risk because of climate and the presence of both Ae. Aegypti and Ae. Albopictus species.

The professionals at SOLitude are experienced to perform a detailed site assessment of your property, and to offer a number of natural and sustainable mosquito control methods that will help to reduce mosquito populations in and around your lake or pond. When it comes to controlling or preventing a serious mosquito-borne illness such as Zika virus, though, a more comprehensive, wide-area mosquito management program should be employed. Although your lake or pond could be providing suitable habitat for mosquito breeding, the reality is that most areas in your community that are conducive to mosquito breeding will be found elsewhere. If you feel you are in need of large-scale mosquito control solutions for your town, community, estate, golf course, ranch, industrial site or other large scale business, or you have an emergency response situation, we will work with our trusted partner, Vector Disease Control International (VDCI), to provide you with an integrated mosquito monitoring and management program that is tailored to your site and specific needs.

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