North Carolina officials stress mosquito prevention in wake of Florida Zika cases

In the Carteret County News Times

County health officials are about to launch a mosquito prevention education campaign.

Meanwhile, the county public works department continues its aggressive mosquito spraying program, according to County Planning and General Services Director Eugene Foxworth. 

The efforts come at a time when 15 cases of the mosquito-borne Zika virus have been reported the last two weeks in Miami, Fla.

Ten new cases were reported Monday and one Tuesday, with four reported last week in the same Miami neighborhood. The virus can lead to birth defects in infants if a pregnant mother is infected with the virus through a mosquito bite or sexual transmission.

A bulletin board highlighting how the Zika virus is spread has been placed in the lobby of the County Health Department, and Health Director David Jenkins said Tuesday brochures will soon be available to the public on ways to prevent mosquito bites.

They will also make mosquito dunks available, which are briquettes that contain environmentally safe mosquitocides that can be placed in standing water.

Mr. Jenkins emphasized that so far no Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that cause the Zika virus have been found in North Carolina.

“They have been located as close as South Carolina,” he said.

“Although Carteret County is not within the geographic distribution area for the Zika virus (through the Aedes aegypti mosquito), we have an abundance of the secondary vector (Aedes albopictus). So precautions to avoid mosquito bites should be taken,” he added.

A new Zika hot zone map was unveiled Tuesday by two Asheville firms that identifies areas where ecological conditions favor the mosquito’s development, including the North Carolina coast. The map is based on data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Also on Tuesday, the federal government awarded North Carolina a $560,000 grant to help fight Zika.

Mr. Jenkins said it’s important that residents join the battle to prevent mosquitos. The main ways they can help prevent mosquitos and avoid their bites are:

•Tip and toss containers holding standing water every week.

•Use mosquitocides to control juvenile and adult mosquitoes.

•Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered repellents.

•Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are biting.

•Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when appropriate.

Of the prevention measures, Mr. Jenkins said the most effective way residents can help is by dumping standing water.

“The health department is stressing the importance of tip- and-toss measures with all containers holding water outside of the home. When tip-and-toss measures cannot be implemented, residents can use mosquito dunks, in accordance with the label,” he said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued an advisory that says pregnant women should not travel to the so-called Zika transmission area in Florida and pregnant women who live there should take steps to prevent mosquito bites and sexual spread of the virus.

The CDC issued the advisory Monday after Florida Gov. Rick Scott said there were 10 new infections of the Zika virus likely transmitted by mosquitoes, bringing the total in the state at that time to 14.

The new cases are clustered in the same square-mile neighborhood in Miami-Dade County identified last week. Florida health officials say they believe active transmissions of Zika are occurring only in that area.

The CDC says men and women who have visited this area since June 15 should wait at least eight weeks before trying to conceive. Because Zika infection has been found to linger in sperm for months, men with Zika symptoms should wait at least six months before trying to have a baby with their partner.

U.S. health officials do not expect widespread outbreaks of the sort seen in Brazil and Latin America.

Although most people who get Zika don’t know they’re sick, infection during pregnancy can cause babies to be born with small heads and other defects.

More than 1,650 people in the mainland U.S. have been infected with Zika in recent months, nearly all while traveling abroad.

2 Responses

  1. […] the wake of an excess of cases of Zika in the Florida area, North Carolina officials are launching what they’re calling, “a mosquito prevention education campaign.” […]

  2. […] the wake of an excess of cases of Zika in the Florida area, North Carolina officials are launching what they’re calling, “a mosquito prevention education campaign.” […]

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