Author, Cassie Krejci, Ph.D.
Welcome to Week 4 of the TERM Barrier System blog series! This week we will be stepping outside of our normal realm of termite management to look at a topic many of you may be worried about this time of year: Zika Virus. Read on for 4 ways to defend Zika!
Zika virus is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes. Specifically, Ae. aegypti, the yellow fever mosquito, and Ae. albopictus, the Asian tiger mosquito. Infection can occur many ways, but the most common are:
Through mosquito bites.
Mosquitoes are often known to bite during dawn and dusk. However, the species of mosquitoes that transmit Zika have been known to bite during the day. Insect vectors transmit the pathogen by feeding on an infected person then subsequently feeding on a different person, during which infection occurs.
From mother to child
A pregnant woman may pass the Zika virus to her child in utero which can cause significant abnormalities. According to the CDC, there have been no reported cases to date of Zika being transmitted through breastfeeding.
An infected person may transmit Zika virus to their partner though sex. Transmission can occur before symptoms start or after symptoms cease.
As entomologists, we extensively study the disease cycle to control transmission. The disease cycle contains three components: the host, the vector, and the pathogen. In the case of Zika virus, a human is the host, Zika is the pathogen, and the mosquito is the vector. It takes all of these components to accelerate the virus.
To end the disease cycle, we can remove just one of those components and end the disease. To do this, entomologists use integrated pest management to effectively control the vector: the mosquito.
Let’s take a look at a few common backyard mosquito breeding locations.
Mosquitoes must have water to complete their life cycle, as the eggs are laid in water and complete their immature stages there. There are many sources of water in your backyard, some of which you may not have realized were there. Simply maintaining fresh water sources and emptying standing water containers can cut the population of insects down drastically.
In addition to sanitation of water around your home, there are several steps you can take to prevent mosquitoes from biting. These are easily remembered as the 4 D’s of Mosquito Protection.
Dusk & Dawn
Reduced exposure to mosquitoes is key in defending yourself. As mentioned above, mosquitoes are known to feed at all times of the day, but dawn and dusk hours are peak times for mosquito feeding.
Proper clothing can help prevent mosquitoes from biting you. Wear light-colored and loose-fitting attire.
Wear repellant! EPA-approved products containing DEET and other active ingredients have shown tremendous efficacy in keeping mosquitoes away.
Standing water is required for mosquitoes to lay their eggs. If you as a homeowner remove any source of stagnant water, you can cut your mosquito population down without ever having to spray a pesticide.
As the weather gets warmer, mosquitoes will begin to get more numerous. Take a look back at these tips throughout the season to help you and your family make it through the summer and fall months.
For more information or questions, please contact Dr. Cassie Krejci at firstname.lastname@example.org. Any statement included is intended to be informational and should not be mistaken for medical advice.