CDC Releases Updated Zika Totals

Updated Zika Totals: Check your state’s numbers; limit your risk

Recently, the Center for Disease Control has released updated information regarding the number of confirmed human Zika infections in the United States and the US territories. Below is a brief explanation of what these numbers mean, as well as some methods by which you can lower your risk of contracting the Zika virus.

Click here to quickly view how many cases were in your state.

 

Background information:

  1. Zika is most often transmitted by an infected mosquito. However, it can also be transmitted through sexual contact, blood transfusions, medical procedures, and from mother to fetus.
  2. Zika virus may persist in bodily fluids (i.e. semen) even after it can no longer be detected by a blood test.

 

Explanation of the terms associated with the numbers

United States traveling cases: 4,649

US territories traveling cases data: Unreliably documented

‘Traveling cases’ refer to humans who have contracted Zika in another country and then traveled to the United States. These cases are typically discovered by medical treatments, medical testing, or through blood donations.

The good news: These numbers are not associated with active transmission from the bite of a mosquito. Currently, mosquito transmission of Zika is low in the continental United States.

The bad news: Most of the people infected with Zika will have mild or no symptoms. Thus, the number of travelling Zika cases is likely higher than reported. It is estimated that less than 20% of infected individuals experience any symptoms at all.

Prevention: It is difficult to know who may be carrying the Zika virus. Even after an individual’s virus levels are too low for human-to-mosquito transmission, human-to human-transmission may still be possible. You should take precautions, especially if you or individuals close to you have recently travelled to areas where Zika is prevalent.

 

United States local transmission cases: 216

US territories local transmission cases: 35,280

‘Local transmission cases’ refer to humans who have contracted Zika virus without travelling to areas where it is prevalent. Local transmission can occur as a result of a local mosquito bite or by exposure to bodily fluids of individuals with Zika.

The good news: Currently, only two mosquito species in the United States have been proven to possess the ability to transmit Zika, with one, Aedes aegypti, being designated as the main vector.

The bad news: Zika-transmitting mosquitoes have adapted to live in close proximity to humans. They breed in containers as small as bottle caps and bite actively throughout the day.

Prevention: Empty any container that is holding water to reduce mosquitoes. Following label directions, apply an EPA-approved repellent and wear light-colored clothing that covers skin to prevent mosquito bites. Use of condoms, oral prophylactics, and abstinence are important options when you are or a partner is at risk for having the Zika virus.

It is difficult to predict how bad Zika will affect the United States this year. Precautions and awareness are necessary to stay virus-free.

Simply guide your mouse over your state to see reported cases.

These statistics are from CDC.gov.

Totals span from Jan 1, 2015 through Jan 11, 2017.

Fashion and Function: Jewelry as Mosquito Repellent

A new jewelry collection was unveiled this summer from Singapore; it is called “Yu Ahn” and doubles as mosquito repellent. Made from Onyx, Jade, and Rhodium, the spherical jewelry comes with small Citronella beads that can be changed and refilled.

mosquito repellent jewelry

Created to combat the Zika outbreak in Asia, the collection features ornate bracelets and necklaces; the Jade is a symbol of protection in many cultures. Citronella is entirely non-toxic and is also incredibly effective – the designer calls it “the concept of safety and fashion.” Many of the pieces are currently sold out, and they range in price from $30 to $50.

 

Original article here

What You Need to Know about Zika Blood Tests

Zika Blood Tests: how difficult is it to obtain one, and how long does it take to receive your results?

Those deemed most at risk for contracting Zika, like international travelers, are finding it difficult to obtain the appropriate blood tests. Even would-be parents are facing delays and eligibility issues. If patients do not fit the CDC’s testing criteria, Zika blood tests, often several of which are required, can cost up to $800.

Zika blood tests

Public health laboratories in states and regions hit hardest by the virus are experiencing a tremendous backlog in processing existing samples, often not taking any additional. Despite other compelling reasons for needing a Zika blood analysis, the CDC is giving priority only to expectant mothers with possible exposure or to those currently experiencing Zika symptoms.

 

Once tested, potentially after already being wait-listed, conclusive results can take multiple weeks, especially in areas previously offering free public testing, such as Miami. Private clinics, which do not always have the resources and tools to conduct the full, three-part Zika blood exam, can typically confirm results in three to seven days. However, limited staff and storage space have also extended the wait time and compounded this problem.

Understanding Mosquito Attractants

There is no question that mosquitoes are attracted to certain types of people more than others. We have all had those nights where the person next to us is bitten by seemingly every mosquito in the area while the pests completely ignore others. Why are mosquitoes more attracted to some people? There are many reasons, and it is important to understand how mosquito attracts like Octenol, sweat, color, heat, and mosquito diet determine how attractive we are to mosquitoes.


Each person has different levels of a specific alcohol, called Octenol, present in their breath and sweat. Octenol has been shown to attract not only mosquitoes but other types of biting insects. The higher the level of Octenol, secreted from sweat glands in the body, the easier it is for mosquitoes to find you in a crowd. Octenol is composed of sequences of Linoleic acid to combine to form the alcohol in your body. According to the EPA, Octenol can even be used in biopesticides because of its attractive nature to biting insects.
In addition to alcohols secreted through sweat, mosquitoes are attracted to both heat and dark colors. Color and heat are connected because wearing a certain color on a sunny day can affect a person’s temperature. For example, dark clothing will absorb more of the sun’s heat than white or yellow garments. Mosquitoes can see darker colors more easily as well.
Most people think mosquitoes survive solely on blood, but a major portion of their diet consists of plant nectar, a sugary solution with a sweet smell often mimicked by perfume. As a result, it is important to remember that in addition to smelling good to people, perfume can also make you smell delicious to a mosquito.
Due to the increased level of concern about mosquito-borne disease, it is essential to understand how mosquitoes determine who to bite. Increased cases of West Nile virus and Zika virus remind us that we must utilize all the information available to protect ourselves and our loved ones from the world’s most deadly animal.

Top 5 Zika Developments in 2016

Many advancements were made in 2016 regarding the Zika virus and its potential effect on the United States.  Researchers confirmed the suspected link between Zika and microcephaly.  The Zika virus made its debut in the continental US with over 4,000 travel-related Zika cases and 185 locally acquired Zika cases in 2016.  A federal Zika bill was approved, and mosquito control efforts were increased and altered to focus on Zika.  However, many municipalities are still without a plan to deal with a Zika outbreak in their own communities.  As the 2017 mosquito season approaches, it is important for areas with conditions conducive to a Zika outbreak to have a plan in place.

 

 

 

1. Link confirmed between Zika virus contraction and birth defects, including microcephaly.

Over the past year, thousands of babies were born with the Zika-linked condition of microcephaly.  Most of these cases occurred in the South American countries of Brazil and Columbia.   In 2016, the US experienced just over 30 documented cases of Zika-related birth defects.  Though previously suspected, it was not until April of 2016 that there was enough causal evidence for the CDC to directly link Zika virus infection with this and other birth defects.

 

2. Microcephaly is not the only condition caused by Zika.

Though microcephaly is the most easily recognizable condition attributed to Zika, there are several other Zika-related developmental issues that may not be apparent until months or years after a child is born.  For example, it is also widely suspected that Zika is linked to the autoimmune condition known as “Guillain-Barre Syndrome” (GBS).

 

3. Clinical trials began in the search for a Zika vaccine.

Because Zika threatens wealthier countries, such as the US and Brazil, Big Pharma sees the potential to make billions by bringing the first effective Zika vaccine to market.  This process is being expedited by government grants, which are covering much of the initial research and development.

 

4. First Zika cases transmitted in the continental US occur in Florida and Texas.

The first locally transmitted cases of Zika were documented in Southern Florida and Southern Texas.  The transmission was attributed to aedes aegypti mosquitoes,  a species prevalent in the State of Florida and across the Gulf Coast region.  Preparations were made in the areas likely to be affected.

 

5. Congress approved a $1.1 billion Zika bill.

Nearly $400 million will be dedicated to vaccine development, while another $400 million will go towards mosquito abatement.  There are also allocations for healthcare-related services, such as the testing and treatment of babies born with Zika-related complications.

New Orleans Metro Company Releases “Mosquitoes” to Combat Zika Virus

New Orleans Metro Company Releases “Mosquitoes” to Combat Zika Virus: 

Education is Major Tool in Battle

combat zika virus

As the Federal Government continues to argue over how to fund the fight against Zika, a New Orleans based mosquito control company is touting public education as an inexpensive step that can be taken to help suppress the spread of Zika Virus.

Mosquito Control Services (MCS) is launching an initiative to put FREE Zika educational materials in the hands of educators across the country, so that they can teach their students to be the first line of defense in helping to protect themselves and their families from mosquitoes with the potential to carry Zika.

The lessons were designed by MCS Biologists and former science teachers who routinely visit elementary schools to teach students about the mosquito life cycle, biology, safety, and now, how they can help protect themselves and their families from mosquitoes.  Educators from around the country will be able to download educational materials and lesson plans that align with Common Core Standards from the MCS website: www.MosquitoCS.com  by simply clicking on the Teachers’ Portal. In the areas that they serve, MCS will also provide staff biologists to assist in presenting these lessons.

 “Over the years, we’ve prioritized taking the time to visit schools to teach kids about mosquitoes and the threats associated with them,” said Biologist Andrew Carpenter.  He added that, “Mosquitoes are such an interesting topic, and kids naturally love to learn.  We encourage kids to put what they learn into practice and share their new Zika-fighting knowledge with others.”

Education is an MCS initiative in the many parishes, counties, and cities where they are contracted to provide mosquito abatement.  “The public concern over Zika Virus is so great that we feel it is our duty as experts to share our knowledge and help thwart the spread of this disease in Louisiana and elsewhere in the Southeast,” explains Steven Pavlovich, MCS General Manager and Principal Entomologist.

Mosquito-Killing Algae: Coming to a pond near you?

Mosquito Control Services is a huge advocate of environmentally friendly and eco-minded pest control techniques. MCS utilizes a number of sustainable, safe tactics, including mosquito fish and fast-dissolving sprays, in its daily business. Mosquito-killing algae may be on the horizon.

University of Texas researchers have developed an algae that kills mosquito larvae without harming other plants or animals and is safe for use even in drinking water. Chlamydomonas, or “chalmy” for short, contains a toxin to which mosquitoes are currently unable to build a tolerance.

mosquito killing algae not pictured

Similar ingredients are already used in pest control bricks often dropped in bodies of water, except this algae is alive and capable of long life as well as reproduction.

Want more science?

Is your perfume a mosquito repellent?

A number of popular perfumes and colognes are allegedly as effective or more than the average mosquito repellent. Is your signature scent on the list?

mosquito repellent

Here are a few that have proven efficacious mosquito repellents:

  • Coqui Coqui
  • Bombshell
  • Aromaflage
  • Unstung Hero
  • Smart Armor

Why are these so effective? Elements of citrus, like lemongrass and orange peel, and other naturally mosquito-repelling plant oils, like eucalyptus have been skillfully blended, in some instances intentionally.

The perfume as a mosquito repellent is most effective when applied to “pulse points” and can be coupled with clothing cover for extra protection.

Sniff out more info

Zika Cases in Miami Linked to Local Mosquitoes, Potential Insecticide Resistance

Florida’s emergency response team has been activated in response to 14 Zika cases in the Miami region that are believed to have been transmitted via local mosquito populations.

Based in Miami-Dade County, the eight-member team includes public health specialists from across the United States. Government officials advise residents and visitors to drain standing water and apply bug spray but to otherwise continue their lives as usual.

miami-1409763_640

The new cases began in a northern area where several non-travel-related cases were first observed. Coworkers, neighbors, and family members were some of the immediate infections then reported.

Several of the cases were asymptomatic and only successfully tracked through diligent surveillance within the newly created one-mile buffer zone, in which more than 200 people have already been tested for Zika.

Pregnant women, as well as those planning to become pregnant, have been advised to avoid the Wynwood area of Miami-Dade County, Florida, where the Zika virus was found to be transmitted by mosquitoes. It is recommended that if you have visited this area since June 15th, you should delay getting pregnant for eight weeks. If you did visit this area, please get screened for Zika.

The mosquito control program in place is presently less than effective, likely due to inaccessible breeding grounds and insecticide resistance. Larvae are surviving despite repeated application of multiple chemicals meant to kill them. Officials worry that if resistance is found, other mosquito control options and resources within the area are presently quite limited.

To learn more about Zika virus, visit our Zika page for state-by-state information or our Zika newsfeed for the most up-to-date Zika trends and topics.

To read more on the situation in Miami, click here.

5 Tips to Prevent Mosquitoes at a Cookout

Are you planning a summer BBQ or other outdoor festivity involving food? Our basic backyard tips were so popular that we’ve prepared five quick and easy things you can do to prevent mosquitoes and other insects or pests from ruining your cookout!

barbecue-1433018_640

 

  1. Eliminate standing water and replace bright lights with warm yellow ones.
  • Mosquitoes breed in standing water, even as little liquid as in a bird bath. Insects, including mosquitoes, are also attracted to bright outdoor lighting. Instead, use yellow bug lighting, which is nearly invisible to insect eyes.

 

  1. Invest in citronella candles, torches or plants.
  • Citronella is a safe, natural repellent found in many mosquito sprays and anti-insect products. You can also purchase it as a potted plant or loose bush for strategic arrangement around your outdoor area.

 

  1. Use an outdoor fan.
  • As mentioned in our previous tips and tricks article, mosquitoes and many other insects struggle to fly in windy conditions. Large fans can help create a barrier surrounding the grill and patio. Alternatively, small clip-on fans can protect individual guests.

 

  1. Try an electronic insect killer.
  • “Bug zappers” attract and kill unwanted insects like mosquitoes using small doses of ultraviolet lighting. Many newer models are easy to empty and clean; most are even battery-powered for quick movement and maneuverability.

 

  1. Plant some catnip.
  • Growing fresh catnip in your garden or in potted plants can repel mosquitos right MEOW! Nepetalactone, a natural oil in catnip, is more effective and safer than DEET. Hanging planters will help keep neighborhood cats away, too.

 

For more tips on keeping your backyard pest free, visit our site or contact one of our pest control experts today at 1-800-256-1784.

More details, including product recommendations, here.