How Concerned Should I Be About Zika?

03/04/2016


Mosquitoes    News    Ticks    Tips/Solutions   

If you’re traveling anywhere Zika is present, you should definitely be concerned. Until recently, the rest of us probably had other worries to agonize over. Here at American Pest, our awareness and concern are growing ever-so-slightly, and we’re doing our best to stay ahead of any such ordeal. Better to be safe, than to be bitten by some illness-laden blood feeder, right? No matter how you spin it, we do think you should be prepared for the probability that Zika could spread north. Meteorological and environmental conditions may also impact the population of mosquitoes in our area, in general, this spring. Is that to say that Global Warming plays some part in mosquito populations, too? Some scientists sure think so.

Move Over Storm Model, There’s a Mosquito Model in Town

Predicting how widespread the Zika swatch will cover, with any certainty, depends on a lot of things—mosquito death rate, incubation periods, and human to mosquito transmission probability—to name a few. Forecasting the reach of mosquito-transmitted illness outbreaks has long since relied upon the collection of mosquitoes and environmental data in the days and weeks preceding the captures. One of the earliest models scientists use to project malaria transmission outbreaks (and other mosquito-borne illnesses), is the Ross-Macdonald model. When data is entered into the complicated math equation, out spits a swath of transmission projections. Thankfully, we can leave the complicated stuff to the smarties, as the intelligence community is beginning to put all the moving parts together. It will only be a matter of time before the U.S. sees accurate predictions based on science, and not just guesswork.

Just today the White House announced that it will hold a Zika summit next month in Atlanta. The summit will bring together top researchers and government officials in an effort to "arm state and local leaders with the necessary knowledge and technical support to have a comprehensive Zika Readiness Action Plan" ready in their jurisdiction.

Bad News and Good News

Bad news is generally bad until someone spins it in a positive light. The attention Zika is getting is bringing mosquito-borne illness prevention to an all time high, and that's a good thing. We know Zika is coming, but don’t have to take it lying down! The proactive folks in our communities know this, and they are doing what they need to do to prepare at the district level. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has stated that a working group is underway, so that if (or when) Zika hits Baltimore, the city is prepared to deal with it. Other local jurisdictions are doing the same. Here at American Pest, we plan to set up mosquito collection sites around the DMA and send them off for scientific evaluation. We, too, want to be the first to know when Zika becomes present in mosquitoes in Maryland.

What Can I Do Now?

Talk with your neighbors. Plan a meeting with your civic or neighborhood association, or HOA, especially if you know that you have an ongoing problem with mosquitoes, standing water as a result of poor drainage, trash and other items that collect water are present, or your neighborhood abuts a wooded area.

  • Schedule a neighborhood walk to inspect the area for mosquito breeding sites and resting places, especially those located in unmaintained zones. Look for any container or structural deficiency that has the potential to collect as little as a cup of water such as bird baths, tarps, wheel barrows, flower pots, buckets, play equipment clogged gutters, blocked drainage systems, pools, vacant houses, and unmoved vehicles. Identify overgrown, shady areas that may need to be cut back.
  • Discuss a plan of action to clean up the neighborhood, and to keep it free from items that collect storm water as well as unmaintained foliage areas.
  • Maintain a schedule of volunteers to perform walk-throughs in assigned areas of the neighborhood (after rains) to dump collected water, and to document trash, junk and debris on residential properties.
  • Maintain a schedule of volunteers to keep bushes, grasses, and weeds cut back and maintained regularly in public areas.
  • Discuss any drainage improvements that are needed to improve storm water collection and runoff, such as grading, berms, dry wells, drainage swales, water gardens, and solutions for neighborhood water problems.
  • Contract with a pest control company to speak about mosquito prevention and vector control at your next neighborhood association meeting. Most companies like American Pest will be happy to discuss prevention and offer reduced rates for mosquito spraying when three or more houses sign on for service.

Keep up to date on Zika news and mosquito prevention tips by liking American Pest on Facebook, or you can simply contact us to learn more about how American Pest can protect you and your family from mosquito and ticks this summer.






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