Public health agencies across the country are working together to prepare for localized Zika transmission, which is a very real issue. Vector control districts along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and local and state health departments are identifying necessary actions to reduce the risk of a local epidemic, and protect the most vulnerable – our unborn children – from Zika. Zika virus is primarily transmitted by bites from Aedes mosquitoes. These highly invasive mosquitoes are common in many parts of the world, and in the southeastern parts of the United States. Most concerning for Californians is that the two primary transmitters of Zika virus are now well-established and rapidly-spreading in at least 11 California counties from San Mateo to San Diego, including Los Angeles County.
ZIKA – THE URBAN REALITY
Aedes mosquitoes thrive in urban habitats. They are supremely adapted to utilize small sources of standing water that humans provide. From plant saucers, to hidden trash, and rain barrels, these mosquitoes can find a home in nearly every yard. To prevent an infestation, containers that have water need to be emptied and disposed of if possible to remove eggs that may be attached. Items that must be kept should be scrubbed clean and stored where water cannot collect. Vector control officials warn residents to take extra precautions with rain barrels or buckets used to collect rainwater.
ADVICE FOR TRAVELERS
Local Zika transmission may occur when an infected traveler gets bit by an Aedes mosquito in Los Angeles County. If your summer plans include a trip south of the border or to the Caribbean, plan ahead to keep yourself and your family safe. Pack mosquito repellents, as they may be hard to find once you arrive. Look for products containing EPA-registered ingredients such as DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR-3535 as these have been tested to be both safe and effective. Review CDC’s Zika Travel Advisory for more information at: www.cdc.gov/zika
Communities must come together to help reduce the risk of Aedes infestations, by keeping mosquito numbers as low as possible. This will directly reduce the risk that Zika or other viruses will circulate in Southern California. Water management is the safest and most environmentally sustainable approach to protect our homes and our families. Weekly property inspections, year round are recommended to identify and eliminate standing water where mosquitoes can grow. Everyone must do their part to address invasive Aedes on their own properties.
SOURCES - Any container that holds a teaspoon of water or more can grow mosquitoes.