The Zika virus is similar to the viruses that causes yellow fever and chikungunya disease and is transmitted by mosquitoes. The type of mosquito that carries this particular strain of disease is seldom found in the United States. However, another type, the Asian tiger mosquito, has adapted to colder climates and is present across a large portion of the southeastern United States. We know it is here and we know that it has the potential to do harm. Controlling the spread of infection is the question.
How Did the United States become at Risk?
Global travel has opened doors for many illnesses and diseases to float from one country to the next. The Zika virus was first discovered in 1947 in Uganda. By 2007, it had been discovered in people in the South Pacific islands. Vacationers from the US began to return home with flu-like symptoms. However, the real problem of infecting fetuses with microcephaly (a birth defect associated with incomplete brain development)has caused major concerns over the Zika virus. What other hidden dangers are yet to be discovered?
Types of Preparation and Prevention
The CDC recommends that the general public be aware of this condition that has no known cure. So far, reported cases have been contained to Mexico, South American countries, Central American countries, Caribbean islands, and most recently, Southeastern Florida. The CDC also makes recommendations of sleeping in screened-in or air-conditioned rooms and using a bed net when sleeping outside. They also recommend using permethrin-treated clothing and outdoor gear as well as covering as much exposed skin as possible by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Permethrin is the only pesticide approved by the EPA for these uses. Applying an insect repellent that contains DEET as well is extremely effective. DEET is approved by the Environmental Protection Agency and is not harmful to pregnant women.
These recommendations are critical in areas where the Zika virus has been reported. However, because we may not be aware of other areas that are potentially infected, precautions should be used in all areas.
Mosquito Control Products
There are other choices in limiting mosquito activity. The first step is to eliminate the breeding sites of mosquitoes. After this has been done, mosquito populations can be treated with a variety of methods.
Try to treat an area by using products that work against Bacillus thuringiensis israeliensis (Bti). This ingredient is a bacterium that produces proteins that are toxic for certain fly larvae. It is marked on products as Larvicide and lasts up to 30 days.
Backyard thermal foggers can also cut back on the presence of mosquitoes for a few hours. The down side is the amount of fog that is created and the temporary fix.
Backyard Misters can also be set to disperse a fine mist, or fog, of insecticide throughout the yard, however these systems can be quite expensive and harmful to beneficial insects.
Mosquito traps and bug zappers are also effective to a point. They can rid a specific area of flying insects to an extent, however they will also attract any type of flying insect. There are also professional lawn care companies that offer mosquito lawn treatment services. These companies are familiar with area problems, what chemicals work and how to protect your yard from future problems.
There are a wide variety of chemicals and treatments that can be recommended depending on your location, climate and infiltration of mosquitoes.
When dealing with viruses that are carried by visiting mosquitoes, you can spend thousands of dollars on remedies that may, or may not work. The Zika virus was a potential problem that many tried to deal with. The most important thing to prevent you or your family from these types of dangers is to know what the potential threats are and how you can best deal with them in order to avoid further complications.