Mosquito season is in high gear in Texas and the new founded Zika virus is on the prowl. There have been 46 recorded cases here in Texas to date and that number will certainly keep rising as we get to the end of the summer into early fall. While a lot of folks must work outdoors, many people are on area lakes and rivers fishing, camping and having fun, some working out in the yard or tending the garden and flowers, and kiddos playing outside having their last bit of fun before school starts, we must be aware of the danger and take precautions to avoid this dreadful disease.
The Zika virus can be brought in from other places by individuals on vacation, business trips, visiting family, and can even be transmitted through sexual contact with infected victims. Folks this is serious and we need to pay attention! Dr. Sonya Swiger, AgriLife Extension Entomologist at Stephenville stated, “It’s the global world we live in today, as people travel and return from areas affected by Zika, some will return carrying the virus. When Aedes mosquitoes bite infected people, they acquire the virus.
The mosquito then transmits it to an uninfected person, passing the virus to them. Epidemics are expected as infected people arrive and locally acquired infections occur, as the many media accounts report, women infected by the virus while pregnant are known to have babies with severe neurological defects. Aside from mosquito infections, additional cases may occur from sexual transmission of the disease. So at this point, controlling mosquitoes and protecting yourself from infection are the two key factors in the rigorous defense against this new mosquito-borne virus threat.”
Dr. Mike Merchant, AgriLife Extension urban entomologist at Dallas stated “fighting Zika will be much different than fighting West Nile virus. Aedes mosquitoes infected with Zika are not easily detected, so health officials have to rely on actual human cases to identify hot spots.”
Ok so what can you do to protect you and your family? Well the first line of defense is the 4-D’s
Drain: Empty standing water, thus eliminating mosquito breeding sites.
Dress: Put on long sleeved shirts and pants when going outside.
Defend: Apply mosquito repellent when going outside.
Dusk and Dawn: Avoid outdoor activity during these two most mosquito-active periods
Other steps you can take for protection- make sure your house is sealed where mosquitos can’t enter such as screen doors or windows. Manage your landscape water features where water will drain and disperse properly. If standing water cannot be readily drained then use Mosquito Dunks or pour a little bleach in the water weekly to prevent or kill the larvae. Anything that holds water should be dumped or treated. Breeding areas can include sites such as containers under potted plants and bird baths.
Other trouble areas are old tires, empty cans and bottles, kiddie pools, buckets, boat tarps and even clogged gutters. Use approved mosquito repellents and always read and follow label instructions. Most repellents can be used on children over two months of age, with the exception of those containing oil of lemon eucalyptus, which should not be used on children younger than 3 years old. For babies under two months of age, infant carriers fitted with mosquito netting are recommended. Pregnant and breast-feeding mothers can safely use EPA-approved insect repellents. EPA and the Centers for Disease Control have evaluated scientific reports and conclude mosquito repellents containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, called IR3535, as active ingredients provide reasonably long-lasting protection from mosquito bites. Everyone will need to pitch in and do their part.
Communicate with your neighbors, if they have standing water they are neglecting, tell them to dump it or treat it. Don’t be shy when it comes to protecting you and your families health. For further information on Mosquitos, control, prevention and diseases please come by or contact our office at 940-668-5412 or visit cooke.agrilife.org
Marty Morgan-Cooke County Ag Agent