Zika Virus, a mosquito-borne infection that can cause serious birth defects, has been documented across the United States, in people who have traveled to Zika infected areas of South America, the Caribbean and Central America. The Zika Virus can cause serious birth defects to unborn children. Pregnant women are at highest risk for transmitting the virus to the unborn fetus. Zika Virus has also been known to be transmitted via semen through unprotected sexual contact with an infected partner. Currently no reported human cases of Zika virus have occurred in Columbia County. The species of mosquito that have been identified to carry the Zika virus, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus have not been found in our area.
“The best way to avoid the transmission of the disease like West Nile or Zika Virus is to reduce the mosquito population around your home and property and to take measures to reduce the chance of being bitten by mosquitoes.” said, Jack Mabb. Interim Public Health Director. Typically the mosquito season runs from June 1st to November 1st. Many mosquitoes that can transmit viruses like West Nile or Zika lay their eggs in any stagnant water that lasts more than four days around the home. “Any standing water around the yard can provide a home for mosquitoes to breed.” Mosquitoes can then enter houses through broken screens or unscreened windows or doors.
To reduce the mosquito population around your home and property, the local health department advises you to take the following steps to reduce or eliminate standing water:
· Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar water-holding containers.
· Drill drain holes in the bottoms of recycling containers that are kept outdoors.
· Make sure that your roof gutters drain properly, and clean clogged gutters in the spring and fall.
· Turn over wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.
· Change the water in bird baths twice a week.
· Dispose of used tires. Call your local landfill or public works department to find out how to dispose of them properly.
· Clean vegetation and debris from the edges of ponds.
· Clean and properly chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs.
· Drain water from pool covers.
· Use landscaping to eliminate standing water that collects on your property.
· Make sure windows and doors have screens in good condition.
“While it is not necessary to limit any outdoor activities, you can reduce your risk of being bitten by mosquitoes. Most mosquitoes in our area do not transmit disease”, Mr. Mabb said.
To avoid mosquito bites:
· Minimize outdoor activities between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
· Wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt when you are outdoors for long periods of time or when mosquitoes are most active.
· Consider using mosquito repellent when outdoors. Follow label directions carefully.
For more information on Zika Virus you can visit the New York State Department of Health’s web site at www.health.state.ny.us or call the NYSDOH Zika Virus Information Line at 1 (888) 364-4723 Monday - Friday (9 am to 5 pm). Visit the Centers for Disease Control web site at www.cdc.gov. You can also contact the Columbia County Department of Health at (518)828-3358 or visit the web site at www.columbiacountyny.com/health