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Tuesday, August 09, 2016

For Zika, West Nile, Health District Urges‘Bug Smarts’

By James Lomuscio

You don’t have to have a pond, large water feature or even a bird bath to spawn mosquitoes prone to harbor the Zika virus, says Mark A. R. Cooper, director of health for the Westport Weston Health District (WWHD).  WestportNow.com Image
Mark A. R. Cooper: take precautions. File photo

Even a bottle cap that fills with water is enough, he says.

“When you walk around your garden and see and standing water, even in bottle caps, get rid of them,” Cooper said, adding that residents insistent on water features use mosquito larvae killing, nematode donuts.

“Zika mosquitoes are going for the smaller things to leave their larvae, the smaller things, the bottle caps, soda, old coffee cups,” he added. “So, as you’re enjoying the outdoors, get rid of standing water. That will address West Nile. That will address Zika.”

Of course, no Zika carrying mosquitoes have been found in Connecticut, and in the several Zika cases reported here, victims contracted the birth defect causing virus travelling to Zika hotspots, such as Brazil.

The virus has also turned up in a section of Miami. Infested individuals can also spread the disease via blood and sexual contact.

“A man infected should refrain from unprotected sexual relations for six months with wife; he could infect her,” he said,

“I think people should prepare, so that if it gets here, they will be ready,” Cooper added. “Get of any small containers of water.

“The insect doesn’t travel far from its breeding place, so you don’t want the hot spot to be your yard.”

Cooper made his comments as part of his annual mid-summer “sun-smart, bug-smart and food-smart” reminders.

Each year he warns residents about Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases, as well as West Nile mosquitoes.

Each year concerns seem to grow, with babesiosis, which mimics lymphoma, a worry in recent years. This year Zika has been added to the mix.

The good news so far is that none of the mosquitoes trapped at Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Stations statewide have tested positive for West Nile or Zika.

“We have very good surveillance,” he said, “and right now they’re watching to see if iWest Nile shows up in bird biting mosquitoes first. So far, it hasn’t.”

He also offered the WWHD’s standard bug smart tips of using repellants, wearing long pants and shirts at dawn and dusk, heavy mosquito traffic times, and avoiding area prone to mosquitoes.

“Summer is a great time; everybody’s out and about, and you’re going outside more,” he said. “And there are mosquitoes outside and insects of all kinds. You don’t want to nuts, but you have to have outside and inside bug smarts.”

Regarding sun smarts, Cooper advised to use sub block and avoid prolonged exposure.

High on the list of food smarts was to be aware of salmonella. It only takes a couple of hours for potato salad in hot sun to become a breeding ground for salmonella, he said.

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