The Zika Virus is Here, So Fight the Bugs “Smart”
According to the data there have been more than 18,000 cases of Zika virus in the US and its territories.
Researchers are trying to understand both how the virus enters the body, how it behaves, and how it’s passed to other people, along with the mosquitoes that carry it.
There are many paths to conquering this threat, the 1 thing experts agree on is a need for more public education on how to avoid infection.
What people will learn is that the seemingly simple task of making sure your backyard does not have standing water is the most critical component of this strategy if you live in a mosquito infested zone.
So, No Mosquito, No Zika virus.
The Aedes aegypti mosquito is 1 of the primary delivery devices of the Zika virus, “is both the easiest and most difficult mosquito to control,” said a spokesperson for the American Mosquito Control Association. “It breeds exclusively in man-made habitats.” Get rid of the habitats, get rid of the mosquito.
Fight the virus Smart.
But eradicating those habitats is no easy task. And researchers who have tried to do just that in other countries combating dengue, another virus carried by A. aegypti, say it is not just a tough battle, but very possibly a losing one.
The virus causes fever, rash, and joint pain in adults that lasts days or weeks, but it can have dire consequences for the unborn children of pregnant women.
An anti-Zika educational campaign would have 3 Key messages, said the Vice President of Vector Disease Control International, a mosquito fighting service based in Little Rock, AK., that has worked with individual cities and the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to help fight the spread of the Zika virus.
- Drain standing and stagnant water
- Cover up, dress accordingly
- Use non-toxic mosquito repellent
Whether or not such an education campaign can work relies on factors other than funding. As people have to actually care about Zika.
A WP-ABC News poll in June found that 67% of Americans were “not too” worried about the disease, or “not at all” worried.
“The effects of Zika seem to be so distant from individuals that it’s challenging to educate and implement public health strategies,” says Dr. Kiran Thakur, a specialist in neuroinfectious diseases at Columbia University and the Zika editor for Medscape Consult, a WebMD-run forum where doctors can ask questions and exchange clinical advice.
In her practice, Dr. Thakur sees a lot of travel-related Zika cases. She’s noticed that, while women know they should wear long sleeves and bug spray while in areas with Zika transmission, many don’t follow these instructions every day. Plus, she says, many are also unaware the disease can be transmitted sexually, or that standing water is the mosquito’s breeding ground. “Emptying standing water from flower pots, small pools in your backyard,” she says, “those things seem to be less known.”
The best way to educate the public is also a matter of debate.
Always, the most effective way is going to depend on the behaviors attempted to being changed.
Any national campaign must gauge who the audience is, how they receive information, and what they consider to be a credible source. Then and only then can it begin to focus on what that messaging will look like.
Awareness of the general public is important, but some people need the message more than others.
The focus should be on women who are at risk of becoming pregnant or who are pregnant,” Dr. Thakur says, given the risk of birth defects for unborn babies of infected mothers. “That’s where I would invest my money if the money was short.”
Mosquitoes carry more diseases than just Zika virus.
Experts are calling for a federally funded national campaign that stigmatizes standing/stagnate water, pointing to similar efforts that have made other behaviors socially unacceptable.
For disseminating information, television and social media could be the most effective in the US, even though in developing countries radio spots and house-to-house visits have more impact.
A very effective tool will be getting out in the public and talking to people, whether it’s by setting up a table at someone else’s fair or creating a Mosquito Awareness Day.
Now the CDC is doing what it can to spread the message, including providing audience-specific Zika Communication Toolkits and launching a comprehensive campaign in Puerto Rico targeting pregnant women. But without more money, don’t expect to see a national Zika virus prevention commercial on television or Mosquito Awareness Day soon.
Even in an ideal world, with endless Zika funding and the time and resources to persuade every American to spill out every last container of standing water, the A. aegypti will find a way to breed.
Dana Focks is one of the leading global experts on the bug and has led efforts in a number of cities to eradicate dengue by controlling the mosquito population.
After a major initiative in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, to destroy the city’s most productive containers, the mosquitoes continued to flourish.
Mr. Focks presented his findings in December 2011 at a symposium hosted by the American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene in a session he led entitled, “A Nail in the Coffin: Time for New Approaches to Dengue Vector Control.”
“There was cryptic breeding,” he says, “underground breeding that we could never find.” Despite the World Health Organization’s (WHO) support for his project and plenty of funding, the approach simply didn’t work. The “WHO has been running around saying clean up the containers, and it’s never produced dengue control anywhere in the world.”
“What we need is a vaccine,” he says.
Scientists are certainly trying, but that requires funding, and to date the US government is offering none of it.
So, that being the case fight Zika Smart is the Key.
Charles Murray, CEO of Penta5 USA based in Sarasota, FL, says, “Always available is our All-Natural ANYTIME no-bite Lotion and I guess for public awareness that something is being done, the authorities have decided to use a chemical solution for the environment, hopefully on a short term basis. People don’t like chemicals and for sure bees and other insect life will be wiped out in that area.”
“Suggesting that all visitors and anyone threatened by mosquitoes use ANYTIME no-bite Lotion, packed in an easy to carry anywhere VialPaQ™ developed in Florida would appear to be a “no brainer”. Arrive off the plane or cruise liner get a VialPaQ for the number of days in Florida. Check into a hotel get a VialPaQ for each day. Have these available at schools in the risk areas. Have them at all woman’s clinics and social security offices etc. This is taking a lead, a strong home grown solution based on results from Florida’s university to fall back on and now the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine agrees with their no-bite results. All technical reports show the All-Natural ANYTIME no-bite solution is as good as the harmful chemical products used as a repellant by folks. Chemicals are not recommended for children and pets. So a risk area for our young ones.
The various leaders; Governor, Health, Agriculture and Tourism Departmental heads in Florida are not being heard in DC, where they appear to be dithering around with the Zika problem. I do feel the leadership team will miss the opportunity to allay tourist fears if they don’t do something soon.”
Mr. Murray recommends for pregnant woman, schools, hotels, airport and cruise lines that each individual be given a VialPaQ daily to ensure no-bites.
For more information go to: http://penta5usa.com/
Have a terrific weekend