Mosquito Control in the Wake of Zika What You Can Do to Avoid Them

Eliminating standing water, improving drainage, weeding and proper mowing help curb the mosquito population. -James Gathany, CDC

If you're ever outdoors during the summertime, you know that those darn mosquitoes are unavoidable, whether you're sitting on your patio or picnicking in the park. The most common solution is either swatting the pesky creatures away from your face or carrying bug repellant. These days, however, there is major concern about mosquitoes because of the Zika virus that has affected parts of Central and South America, Mexico and the Caribbean, according to the New York City Department of Health. The disease has also focused attention on the upcoming Summer Olympics in Brazil, after that country was identified as a high-risk area for the disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Zika can be transmitted through bites from an infected Aedes species of mosquito, from a mother to child; through sexual contact between a man infected with the virus to his partners; and through blood transfusion. The symptoms associated with the virus include fever, red eyes, rash or joint pain. Most notably, Zika can cause serious birth defects for pregnant women. At the moment, there is no vaccine to prevent the disease.

Reported Cases

The CDC also says that there has not been a locally mosquito-borne Zika case reported in the Americas, but there have been cases of travelers who carried the disease home upon returning to the U.S. from affected areas, according to tests. They became infected when they were bitten by mosquitoes or through sexual contact. Of the 192 Zika cases in the tri-state area as of June 15, 174 Zika cases have been in New York, 17 in New Jersey, and 1 in Connecticut—all linked to travel. The New York City Health Department said it has been conducting aerial larvicide treatments over marsh and other non-residential areas in the boroughs of Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx to control mosquitoes since last May.

According to Ron Marrone, owner of J. D'Ambrozio Pest Management Services Inc. in Fairfield, New Jersey, there has been an uptick in calls from customers regarding mosquito control, perhaps due to Zika. “People are concerned about it,” says Marrone. “The weather really hasn't gotten hot yetit's fluctuating, it's a little cool out. So once the weather gets hot, it stays hot, and we're probably going to get more calls. I've noticed a difference in that people are calling and asking, 'What do you do? What could we do to prevent it?”


Beware of Standing Water

The problem with mosquitoes at home can be mostly attributed to standing water, says Marrone. “People have bird baths, and you'll get mosquitoes laying eggs in them. Some people have pools and they haven't opened them, and they have puddles of standing water on the pool covers. Or gutters that might be overflowing and blocked up. So those are breeding sites. When you do a treatment, you actually spray underneath the bushes, where mosquitoes hide, and around the light fixtures at night, because they're attracted to light. So if you spray a chemical around that, they land on it, and they die.”

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