The word “Zika” is new to the vocabulary of most Americans, springing to the forefront with warnings for athletes and visitors of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil. However, Rio de Janeiro is far from Charlotte therefore it’s easy to think that North Carolinians are too far-removed for concern. But is this actually the case and are there ways for the average family to ensure protection from the virus and its ensuing conditions, such as microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome?
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed 35 cases of the Zika virus in North Carolina as of August 17, 2016. All of these have been travel-associated rather than locally acquired, which is an important distinction. This means that the mosquitos who carry it are not “breeding and feeding” in our state. In fact, only 14 cases have originated within the United States thus far, concentrated in one neighborhood in Miami, Florida. Our neighboring states of South Carolina and Virginia have reported 31 and 62 cases, respectively, and Tennessee has weighed in with just 33 cases.
What are the Chances?
The dominant carrier of the Zika virus is a “yellow fever” mosquito known as Aedes aegypti. None of these mosquitos have been found in North Carolina, even after researchers collected and tested 17,000 mosquito eggs from 16 different sites in throughout the 2016 summer months. They did find a notable number of eggs from the Aedes albopictus, or Asian tiger mosquito, which can carry Zika – but it’s rare.
The chance of a runaway epidemic of Zika and its related diseases in Charlotte is unlikely – but the mosquito season in North Carolina does run through September, so it’s good to know the scoop and exercise some caution. Here are some things you can do to protect yourself and your family from contracting the Zika virus.
Ban the Breeding
Mosquitos love standing water, as that’s where they lay their eggs. Up to new 300 mosquitos can emerge from just one tablespoon of water, so it’s crucial to eliminate standing water from bird baths, buckets, tires, pots, inflatable pools and gutters. Fill outdoor puddles in with dirt. Put screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitos from indoor water glasses or shower puddles.
The CDC recommends using an EPA-registered insect repellent for protection. Follow all label directions, especially when applying on children. Avoid using it on infants under two months old. Consider alternative natural insect repellents, such as ones containing citronella and geraniol or oils that include lemongrass, cedar, rosemary, peppermint and cinnamon. Consumer Reports notes that natural insect repellents tend to wear off very quickly – so keep this in mind.
Dress for Success
Covering up is the easiest and most practical way to avoid getting the Zika virus. The Aedes aegypti mosquito is more active during the day, so wear lightweight long sleeves and pants and full-coverage shoes. Use mosquito netting over strollers and baby carriers.
Mosquito control is one of the most important and popular services we provide at Carolina Pest Management. Contact us today to learn more about our mosquito control treatments to ensure the safety of your family and enjoyment of your property.