Fight the Bite and the Zika virus

This isn’t something you’d normally think about reading on a health & wellness website, but it’s just as important fight the bitefor your lifestyle.  Right now with the warmer weather coming around, many of your are going to be spending more time outdoors, and you need to be aware and take proper precautions!

On January 22, 2016, the CDC activated its Incident Management System to respond to the outbreaks of Zika currently ongoing in many countries. This virus, which is spread primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito, can result in illness but is often asymptomatic. When they occur, the most common symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis. Zika virus can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus and can cause a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly in babies of women who had Zika virus while pregnant. Other problems have been detected among fetuses and infants infected with Zika virus before birth, such as absent or poorly developed brain structures, defects of the eye, hearing deficits, and impaired growth.

Although local transmission of the disease has not been confirmed here in the continental United States, the Kentucky Department for Public Health (KDPH) has begun the process of coordinating with partners at the state level to educate the public about the dangers of Zika virus and steps they can take to protect themselves. Homeowners need to begin preparing now for summer mosquito season by ridding their environments of potential mosquito breeding areas. Mosquitoes are a common insect in Kentucky and other states, particularly in the warmer months. Besides being a nuisance, some mosquitoes are known to carry diseases. You should take steps to protect yourself and your loved ones from potential exposures by reducing possible breeding locations in and around your home.

Please be mindful of areas and objects around your home that can hold water and support mosquito breeding. Birdbaths, clogged gutters, flower pots and any other container that retains water are likely to become a breeding site if left untreated.  It is recommended that everyone monitor the areas around their home and remove all sources of standing water in order to reduce the areas where mosquitoes can lay their eggs. The Aedes species of mosquitoes, now in the news due to their association with the Zika virus, are particularly good at using common household containers as breeding locations. These mosquitoes are small in size and dark in color, with white stripes on their legs. Some mosquito species found in Kentucky lay eggs that can survive throughout the winter months and begin hatching as soon as the temperatures begin to warm up. Several of these mosquitoes are aggressive daytime biters, with peak biting times during the early morning and late afternoon. They have short flight ranges, so many of the mosquitoes encountered in your backyard most likely originated there. For those reasons, it is important to reduce or eliminated potential breeding sites in and around your homes.

Residents are urged to continue their prevention efforts throughout the spring and summer seasons by utilizing the following tips in and around your homes.

  • Survey property for areas of standing water, and eliminate mosquito breeding areas by removing water as it accumulates. Some species of mosquitoes can breed in containers of water as small as a bottle cap.
  • Destroy or dispose of tin cans, old tires, buckets, unused plastic swimming pools, or other containers that hold water.
  • Check your yard weekly for water-filled containers. Throw away or recycle containers that aren’t needed. If empty containers must be kept, make sure to store them by covering or otherwise preventing water from accumulating in them.
  • Clean and scrub bird baths and pet watering dishes weekly and dump water from overflow dishes under potted plants and flower pots.
  • Ensure that gutters are not holding water and cover rain barrels with tight screening so that mosquitoes cannot enter.
  • Fill tree holes with sand or soil.

These tips can help you avoid the threat of Zika virus and an annoying itch!

Source credit:  Kentucky Regional Health & Safety Council

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