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WHAT’S THE LATEST ON THE MOSQUITO FRONT?

By Chris Williams on May 8, 2017.

Mosquitoes are out and about. If you’re in an area that has had any rain recently, you can rest assured that mosquito larvae are developing and adult mosquitoes that have already emerged are laying eggs in standing water, or in areas that will soon be flooded by rains (see When Can We Expect to See Mosquitoes Again?).

You can also expect that mosquitoes will be The Pest of note this spring and summer. While we are relatively protected (so far) from Zika virus here in the Northeast, most of the country has not forgotten last summer’s worries about the potential influx of Zika into the U.S.

WE ARE NOT DONE WITH ZIKA VIRUS

Last summer, Zika mosquitoes were spreading the disease directly to people only in a limited area around Miami, FL, and Brownsville, TX. In the rest of the country, Zika cases that occurred were from individuals who traveled outside of the U.S. to Zika areas (or in some cases traveled to the affected areas in Florida or Texas) and were bitten, or had intimate contact with someone who traveled and came home with Zika.

Surprisingly, New York was the second hardest hit state last summer, after Florida. Even though Zika was not spread by mosquito bites within the state, New York still reported 1,021 cases of Zika. Similar scenarios were going on in other states, but in much lesser numbers. Isolated Zika virus cases can occur even in states where the Aedes vector mosquito is not found (see Should We Be Worried About Zika Virus Here in the Northeast?).

The Centers for Disease Control reports that, as of early April, there have been 1,762 reported cases of Zika virus in pregnant women in the U.S. There are 30 to 40 pregnancy-related Zika cases reported each week and about one out of 10 of these pregnancies results in a fetus or infant with Zika-associated birth defects. With several months of research and tracking data, the medical community reports that the risk for birth defects in Zika-affected babies is even greater than we thought. And the variety of defects goes beyond microcephaly and brain damage to include eye abnormalities, hearing loss, seizures, and loss of control over limb movement.

WHAT CAN WE EXPECT THIS SUMMER?

It’s certain that the U.S. will see more cases of Zika virus this summer. The hope is that government and health officials will be able to isolate and treat areas where the virus shows up in mosquitoes, much as they did last summer in Miami-Dade county. As of this writing, it looks as though there will be federal funding available to help combat any Zika outbreaks. What there won’t be anytime soon is a vaccine that can prevent the disease. A number of vaccine trials are underway but it is expected to be years before a vaccine is approved and available.

Zika is not the only mosquito-transmitted disease of concern. Other diseases such as West Nile virus do occur in the Northeast. Do what you can to protect your family from mosquitoes by eliminating standing water (see Spring is the Time for a Mosquito Check of Your Yard) and using mosquito repellents when outside.

Photo Credit : pixnio

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