You have seen the reports. The Zika virus is in some Florida communities. While Zika can affect people of all ages, it is of particular concern to pregnant women since it is known to case a birth defect in babies known as microcephaly. It is important to pay attention to how this threat could affect you and your family and to take measures to keep the Zika virus as far from your home as possible.
A common myth is that mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus are most prevalent in areas around bodies of water or at dusk, but the two species known to transmit this virus actually bite most during the day and breed in and around standing water. Even as little as one teaspoon or bottle cap of water standing for more than one week is enough to provide the right environment for Zika. These mosquitoes also generally stay within a 150-yard area.
There is currently no vaccine to prevent Zika and no medicine available once it has been contracted. That’s why Orange County Mosquito Control is closely monitoring the status of the virus, and officials are asking for help from the community to minimize the spread of Zika and other mosquito-borne illnesses. Use the county’s tip-toss-cover measures to develop habits that will directly benefit you and your neighbors.
TIP outstanding water – even very small amounts – from flowerpots, toys, buckets, pet dishes, trash containers, wading pools and car covers at least once a week. Flush gutters, birdbaths and bromeliads with fresh water from your house.
TOSS items that can collect water. Put away items that are not being used and could hold standing water. Remember, even very small amounts of water provide a home for Zika.
COVER exposed skin during the day by wearing shoes, socks, long pants and long sleeves. Apply mosquito repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535. EPA-approved repellent is safe for pregnant women to use. Use mosquito netting on strollers for infants and babies.
In addition, Orange County officials recommend doing what you can to keep mosquitoes outside including keeping screens on all windows, repairing any holes in window screens, and using air conditioning instead of opening doors and windows. If you own bromeliads, which hold water in their leaves, flush them out with a hose once a week. Check in with elderly neighbors who may need assistance with
Visit Orange County’s online resource at www.OCFL.net/Zika for more information about the Zika virus including how it spreads, symptoms to watch for, and how you can protect yourself and your family.
To read about the truth behind the top eight Zika myths, click here.