This Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus), pictured above, is common in Loudoun and capable of carrying the Zika virus. However no Zika transmission has been reported in the United States; all known cases here were obtained abroad.
Loudoun County decided to take advantage of National Mosquito Control Awareness Week, June 26 – July 2, and highlight simple steps residents can take to prevent mosquitoes from breeding around homes in the county. Fewer mosquitos will help to minimize the threat of Zika virus, West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne diseases.
“As we continue to see more cases of Zika in people who return from travel to Zika-affected parts of the world and we enter the peak mosquito biting months, these prevention steps are increasingly important to help prevent Zika from taking root in Virginia,” said Loudoun County Health Director Dr. David Goodfriend.
Asian tiger mosquitoes, among the most common mosquitoes in Loudoun County, can transmit Zika virus. They reproduce in standing water, often in artificial containers, and they generally do not fly long distances. To reduce breeding sites:
- Replace or dump out water at least weekly in bird baths, pet bowls, and other water features.
- Dispose of containers that can capture water, such as drink containers, tires, toys, tarps, etc.
- Look for sources of standing water, such as potted plants, roof gutters, air conditioners, corrugated drain pipes, etc., and eliminate standing water.
- If standing water cannot be removed, consider treating the water with larvicides or “mosquito dunks,” which prevent mosquitoes from developing and are available at home improvement stores.
In addition to breeding control, health officials recommend guarding against mosquito bites by during the following:
- Wear long sleeves, long pants, and light-colored, loose-fitting clothing to cover exposed skin.
- Use EPA-registered insect repellent according to the product label. Because the Asian tiger mosquito which carries the Zika virus is mainly a daytime biter, it is important to wear repellent during the day and night.
- Make sure windows have screens and doors are closed to keep mosquitoes out of your home.
Pregnant women should take additional precautions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) because Zika virus can result in microcephaly. Pregnant women should not travel to areas in the world where Zika virus is spreading, take steps to prevent being bitten by mosquitoes, and consult with their doctors for more information on the risks associated with Zika.
The Loudoun County Health Department and students from Loudoun County Public Schools’ C.S. Monroe Technology Center have produced educational videos about mosquito control and protection intended for elementary school and high school audiences.
Last month, the Loudoun Board of Supervisors approved a Zika Response Plan that can be found online at www.loudoun.gov/zika. People with questions about Zika may contact the Loudoun County Health Department by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Picture courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)