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What you should know about recent Zika Virus and Mosquito Protection

Prior to the Olympic Games we heard a lot about Zika and recently Florida has been on the national news for the Zika Virus. Should we be worried about the Zika? (Don’t Panic) That’s the message the National Pest Management Association shared. “In certain areas of the country it simply won’t be an issue” says Cindy Mannes, Vice President of public affairs for NPMA.  What you should know.

Dangers Include: Zika Virus, West Nile, Encephalitis, Malaria, Yellow & Dengue Fever, Chikungunya Disease, and Vector for Heartworm in dogs & cats.

What is Zika? Zika is a viral disease spread primarily through the bite of an Aedes species mosquito—such as the yellow fever mosquito and the Asian tiger mosquito—that is infected with the Zika virus. Aedes mosquitoes are the perfect contractors of diseases like Zika, says Laura Harrington, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Entomology at Cornell University.

“They have a preference for humans and are stealthy biters,” she says. “Their habitats (also) are typically in close association and contact with humans.” By “stealthy biters,” she means the bites often aren’t felt or anticipated until after the bite. Additionally, people typically associate mosquitoes with evenings and nights, but these guys are daytime feeders. The virus can be transmitted other, less likely ways, such as sexually and through blood transfusions. Pregnant women or women planning to become pregnant should be most concerned, says Joe Laco from the CDC’s Zika Response Team.

How do I know if I have it? Most people infected with Zika virus (80%) fight off the virus with no symptoms. The majority of people with symptoms have relatively mild illness with: Fever, Rash, Joint pain, Conjunctivitis (pink eye)

The primary health concern is for women who are pregnant or might become pregnant traveling to areas where Zika is currently circulating. Cases are often diagnosed through blood tests. Right now there is no medicine or vaccine that treats the virus. The CDC suggests people treat the symptons with rest, acetaminophen to reduce fever and pain, and fluids to prevent dehydration. The NPMA reminds lawn and pest professionals they may be an authority on mosquito biology and control, but they are not doctors. So see a Medical Doctor if you have or believe you have the virus.

Can Pest Management Companies help prevent it? Unfortunately, pest management professionals cannot eliminate the spread of a disease like Zika—but TruGreen can help prevent it. The first and most important step is managing the expectations from a mosquito prevention treatment.The expectation should not be that you will have no more mosquitoes, no more bites, because when we’re dealing with mosquito control it’s in an “outdoor environment,” says Jim Fredricks, Ph.D., vice president of technical and regulatory affairs for NPMA. “Mosquitoes are mobile and can certainly fly into a yard and bite your client.”

However we are able to reduce mosquito populations and reduce the number of bites they receive on their properties. The biggest thing to look for is standing water, in which Aedes larvae breed. Up to a ½ inch of water—which can be found inside tires, tree holes, pails, plastic jugs, clogged gutters, birdbaths, catch basins, children’s toys, abandoned pools and flowerpots— can be incubators for Aedes in someone’s yard. When a potential breeding site is located, we can check the site to see if larvae are present. Aedes will often rest near the top of the water.  “Aedes mosquitoes live near their preferred food source—PEOPLE. They have adapted to live in our environment, so treatment must focus on areas where they live and rest. TruGreen uses an insecticide with a good residual. Then when adults land on or attempt to hide in these areas they die.

TruGreen offers mosquito control treatment that consists of spraying all harborage areas where mosquitos hide. Treatments should be done monthly March-September for best results. Target areas are underside of leaves of all plants, trees, mulch, ground covers, hanging baskets.

What can you do to help prevent it?  DRAIN standing water from any container where sprinkler or rainwater has collected. Cover your bare sin and clothing with repellent if you must be outside when mosquitoes are active during hours of dusk and dawn. The disease carrying mosquitoes are daytime biters and usually don’t fly far from the containers where they spent their immature life stages. Wear shoes socks and long pants/sleeves. Customer cooperation is vital to the success of the treatments. Without cooperation, expectations will not be met which will cause customer dissatisfaction, it will increase the liability for you and increase the likelihood that diseases will be vectored in the customer’s environment.

If there are natural areas (preserve) close by that cannot be treated then you should consider wearing long-sleeve shirts, long pants and socks with shoes. Clothing also can be treated with preventive products, such as permethrin spray, which often lasts up to 10 washes. Even DEET mosquito repellents—which are also suggested by the EPA and CDC for reducing mosquito bites—go a long way in the fight to prevent Zika and other mosquito-borne illnesses.

For a quote on commercial Mosquito Control call TruGreen, Bethany Thompson @ 321-615-5178"