Orange County Urges Proactive Measures to Combat Mosquito-Borne Zika Virus
ORANGE COUNTY — According to the Florida Department of Health, as of February 4, 12 cases of the Zika virus have been reported in the state of Florida, all considered to be travel-related. With the announcement of these cases, the Orange County Health Services Department’s Mosquito Control Division is taking proactive measures to reduce the threat of an outbreak and urging people to protect themselves from possible infection.
The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The virus typically produces only mild symptoms and usually resolves on its own.
Kelly Deutsch, acting manager of the Orange County Mosquito Control Division, reports that ongoing preventive measures put in place in Orange County to combat other similar mosquito-borne illnesses (such as Dengue and Chikungunya) are equally effective in combatting the Zika virus. The mosquitoes capable of transmitting Zika are the Aedes aegypti (Yellow Fever mosquito) and the Aedes albopictus (Asian Tiger mosquito). These species bite both during the day and at night, as well as indoors and outdoors. Unlike most other mosquitoes, they breed near residences in containers with standing water – not in large natural bodies of water.
“These mosquitoes are found in areas that collect and hold water around homes in places like tin cans, old tires, buckets, unused plastic swimming pools,” said Deutsch. “It’s also important to remove or refresh water in bird baths and pet dishes at least every week. Controlling these mosquitoes is really a community effort. We need all residents to take a look around their homes to see how they can help lower their risk of contact with these mosquitoes by eliminating unnecessary standing water.”
In addition, Deutsch recommends protecting yourself with insect repellent that contains DEET (N,N-Diethyl-3-methylbenzamide), which is the gold standard in bug spray.
“There is no vaccine or medication available to prevent infection and the virus can only be treated symptomatically. The good news is that symptoms are generally mild for most people, said George Ralls, MD who serves as Orange County Medical Director. Adding, “it is very important for women who are pregnant, or considering pregnancy, to heed to any CDC travel advisories on visiting Zika-affected areas and even at home avoid the potential for mosquito bites until the relationship between the virus and birth defects are better defined.”
According to the CDC, the first reported cases of Zika were found in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. In 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infections in Brazil.
Orange County Health Services Department’s Mosquito Control Division actively looks for sources of immature mosquitoes, as well as sprays to control the adult mosquito population and is a resource available to all citizens, including those who would like their property checked for these mosquitoes. Call 407-254-9120 for Mosquito Control, or dial 311 to learn more about related services provided by Orange County.
Editor's note: The Florida Department of Health is the lead agency monitoring infectious disease within the state of Florida. Please contact DOH for the most recent information on reports of the Zika virus in Florida. The Centers for Disease and Prevention Control is the lead federal partner. Please visit the CDC website for information on the Zika virus.