Friday, April 15, 2016 - 8:56am
Spring has arrived in Dane County, and with the warmer weather we can expect the mosquitoes to be coming soon. Public Health Madison and Dane County (PHMDC) wants to remind the public about the importance of preventing mosquito bites and getting rid of standing water where mosquitoes can breed.
Mosquitoes have often been in the news for diseases like West Nile Virus, but more recently, Zika virus has been in the spotlight. To date, in Dane County and in Wisconsin, there have been no cases of Zika virus, which is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito.
According to John Hausbeck, PHMDC Environmental Health Supervisor, “In over ten years of monitoring, we have not found the two species of mosquitoes in our community identified as Zika carriers, but we are monitoring for them.” However, as this is a situation that is still unfolding, reducing areas where mosquitoes can breed, and preventing being bitten are the best strategies for people to avoid becoming ill.
PHMDC advises individuals to prevent mosquito bites by doing the following: wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants; install or repair screens on windows or doors to keep mosquitoes outside; use EPA-registered insect repellents, following product instructions; and treat clothing and gear with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated items.
Additionally, people are advised to empty standing water from flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires, and birdbaths on their property on a regular basis, in order to prevent breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
PHMDC will continue to monitor this upcoming season for mosquito species that transmit diseases such as West Nile Virus, in addition to watching for the specific species that transmit Zika virus. Dane County has had a mild winter and wetter than usual spring, which means mosquito numbers in our area could be high. During mosquito season in Dane County, approximately late May through September, PHMDC routinely monitors adult and larvae mosquitoes.
Dr. Jon Temte, Medical Director for PHMDC, reminds us that in Dane County, the main threat for Zika virus comes from people who have traveled to areas where Zika is a problem. “Returning travelers who have been infected with the virus elsewhere will be the most likely way that Zika enters Dane County. Once infected, a person may spread Zika to a partner through sexual activity. Although the mosquito species in Dane County do not carry Zika, expanding ranges of those that do carry Zika mean that mosquitoes here could become infected if they’ve fed on an individual with the infection. We want anyone who has traveled to areas affected by Zika and who has symptoms to see their healthcare provider. They’re receiving guidance regularly about the surveillance and treatment of this infection.”
Zika virus is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus species mosquito, but can also be transmitted through blood transfusions and sexual activity. Symptoms occur in 1 in 5 people infected with Zika virus and include fever, conjunctivitis (red eyes), rash, and/or joint pain. The illness is typically mild and resolves within one week. However, Zika infection in pregnant women can cause congenital microcephaly and other problems. Guillain-Barre syndrome and other neurological problems have also been reported in patients with Zika infection.
“Public Health Madison and Dane County is in close contact with our partners at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the University of Wisconsin-Madison and paying close attention to continually evolving guidelines and best practices related to Zika virus to keep Dane County residents healthy,” says Janel Heinrich, Director of PHMDC.
As new developments regarding Zika virus and our mosquito monitoring arise, PHMDC will continue to keep the public informed.
- Jeff Golden, (608) 243-0302, firstname.lastname@example.org