The ZIKA virus – it’s on everyone’s mind these days.
Hallie Frazee, Harris County's Public Health Department's Communications Specialist, recently shared the latest updates on the Zika virus. She plans to speak to the West U Rotary later this fall.
There are three ways to be infected with the Zika virus:
• You can be bitten by an infected mosquito, or
• The virus can be passed via sexual transmission, or
• The virus can be passed from mother to infant during pregnancy.
Currently, there are NO locally transmitted cases of Zika in Harris County. We’ve had several travelers return from other areas with Zika, and we’ve had cases of mother to infant transmission in pregnancy, BUT we have not found any traces of Zika in our local mosquitoes.
Harris County spent $4.5 million this year on mosquito control, with an additional $1.1 million specifically focusing on the Zika virus. The Aedes mosquitoes that carry Zika bite only humans, so you will not see the Zika virus amplify in animal populations. Unlike other mosquitoes, Aedes mosquitoes are active all day long. They tend to bite at ankle height, so cover up with long sleeves and pants. Use an EPA-registered insect repellent that contains either DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon or eucalyptus.
It only takes a tiny amount of standing water to breed mosquitoes. They can hatch in just a bottle cap of water. So here are some good precautions you can take at home:
• Avoid over-watering plants and lawns.
• Clear out rain gutters.
• Keep tight fitting screens on doors and windows.
• Properly maintain swimming pools and spas.
• Eliminate standing water from tires, pet bowls and flower pot.
• Repair leaking faucets.
• Keep your storm drains flowing. Properly dispose of lawn clippings, leaves and tree limbs.
For more information, call Harris County Public Health Mosquito Control at (713) 440-4900 or visit www.hcphes.org/mc.