From the Parker County Judge’s Office
It is that time of the year with grass turning green, trees getting their leaves and flowers blooming, but warmer temperatures also means the return of the dreaded mosquito.
Parker County Emergency Management is joining Texas health officials in raising awareness of a new emerging health threat spread by mosquitoes known as the Zika Virus.
Zika virus is primarily spread to people through mosquito bites. About 80 percent of people infected with the virus do not become ill, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
Officials say for those who do develop symptoms, the illness is generally mild and typically lasts a few days to a week. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis or red eyes.
Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon and fatalities are rare, but doctors are looking into a possible link between Zika Virus outbreaks and an increase in microcephaly and Guillain-Barre’ syndrome.
So far all cases are directly or indirectly related to travel to areas of the world where spread of the virus is active and ongoing.
Texas has confirmed 23 cases of the Zika Virus through March 17, 22 of which were travelers who were infected abroad and diagnosed after they returned home. One case involved a Dallas County resident who had sexual contact with someone who acquired the Zika infection while traveling abroad.
“As a mobile society with the world at our fingertips, we can expect to see more emerging diseases regardless of how they are transmitted,” said Kit Marshall, Parker County Community Liaison for Emergency Preparedness. “Taking steps to ensure our homes are free from pesky mosquitoes that love standing water is a very simple way to do our part to reduce the risk of Zika and other mosquito born diseases.”
As of March 17, there have been no reported or confirmed cases in Parker County. Tarrant County has three cases and Dallas County has four.
“With all the rain we have already had this year, I think it would be wise to start taking steps immediately to reduce the mosquito population in and around your home,” Parker County Public Information Officer Joel Kertok said. “Mosquitoes are an unfortunate part of life and they can be prolific in their numbers. Just one five-gallon bucket of water left to sit out can give rise to hundreds of mosquitoes in a matter of days, so working to reduce standing water and wearing mosquito repellant is paramount.”
Doctor John Hellerstedt, Commissioner of Texas Department of State Health Services, said it is highly likely Texas will experience local transmission of Zika virus by mosquitoes at some point.
Like the West Nile virus, the following community-wide and individual actions are recommended to help prevent or delay local transmission of Zika virus and reduce the potential spread of Zika among Texans.
Treat standing water with larvicide such as mosquito “dunks” when the standing water cannot be drained and the water will be present for more than a couple of days.
- Empty all things or get rid of cans, buckets, old tires or any other containers that hold water.
- Clear gutters of debris and standing water.
- Change water in pet dishes daily.
- Rinse and scrub vases and other indoor water containers weekly.
- Change water in wading pools and bird baths several times a week.
- Maintain backyard pools or hot tubs.
- Cover trash containers.
- Water lawns and gardens carefully so water does not pool and stand for several days.
- Screen rain barrels and openings to water tanks or cisterns.
- Treat the front and back door areas of homes with residual insecticides if mosquitoes are abundant.
- If mosquito problems persist, consider pesticide applications for yards and vegetations around the home.
In addition to mosquito control strategies, the best way to avoid infection is to prevent mosquito bites from happening in the first place.
Individuals can protect themselves and their family from mosquito bites by wearing insect repellent, wearing long sleeves and pants, keeping mosquitoes out of homes with intact window screens and limiting outdoor activities and exposure to mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes are typically most active during dawn and dusk, but they can be present and active at all times of the day.
For more information on Zika virus, visit www.taxeszika.org.