As warmer temperatures usher in the outdoor recreation season, Hamilton County health officials are beginning their annual battle against mosquito-borne illness. And this year, the “Fight the Bite” campaign also aims to keep the Zika virus at bay.
Although Zika has not been transmitted by mosquitos in the continental United States, the virus has been confirmed in travelers returning from areas with outbreaks as well as in some non-travelers who had intimate contact with a carrier of the disease. Most people don’t exhibit any symptoms, but Zika infection during pregnancy has been linked to microcephaly and other serious birth defects of the brain.
Indiana residents are not in any immediate danger, and we all can help stay out of harm’s way by following some common-sense advice from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control:
- Eliminate standing water in and around your home to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.
- Repair cracks or gaps in septic tank plumbing.
- Use screens to keep mosquitoes out of your home.
- Use insect repellant to prevent mosquito bites.
At the county level, mosquito-control staff proactively treat areas where water collects—maintaining a map of hundreds of known sites and responding to reports from citizens. They cover breeding areas with larvicide to kill mosquitoes before they mature, and when necessary supplement that with a truck-mounted fogger. Adult mosquitoes are tested regularly for disease.
Hamilton County Health Department officials have been working on a plan of attack since the World Health Organization declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, and Vector Control Specialist Alex Davis has already started testing standing water for mosquito larvae.
“We’re prepared,” he said.
For more information about Hamilton County’s mosquito-control program, visit the Health Department web page
The CDC regularly updates its Zika virus page
with useful resources and the latest information about affected areas.