Avoiding the Zika virus? Beat the mosquitoes

April 18, 2017

When it comes to fighting mosquitoes – and especially the Aedes aegypti, which can carry the Zika virus – just about everyone has an opportunity to contribute in 2017. Among them:

Construction workers

A recent report in the Miami Herald said the local outbreak of Zika in Miami Beach was traced back to standing water at a construction site in the city.

Builders of both commercial projects and homes should be on guard for standing water, even in small amounts, at job sites. Inspectors in Miami found hordes of mosquitoes flying around puddles on each of five floors of an unfinished building recently.

Before buildings become weather-tight, workers and their supervisors need to watch for water from rain or plumbing work and make sure the water is not allowed to stand.

Homeowners

A key strategy for controlling mosquitoes around the home is to know where they go to rest, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Zika information page.

Mosquitoes look for places that are dark and humid to rest, and they are most vulnerable when resting. Outside, spray for them under patio furniture, and in open patios or garages. Inside, look under sinks, in closets, under furniture and in the laundry room, and treat as needed.

Be sure to use only insecticides designed to kill mosquitoes, and be aware that indoor foggers will have to be used periodically if mosquitoes are getting inside.

Gardeners

Systems for capturing rainwater are increasingly common, but without proper precautions, they also can serve as breeding areas for mosquitoes.

A guide published by the state of Hawaii had steps to take when setting up a system, including making sure the collection surface is sloped enough to prevent pooling. It noted that gutters need to be kept clean to prevent standing water.

The collection tank needs to be made of a solid material, and all openings need to be covered with a fine mesh material or sealed with devices designed to keep out egg-laying mosquitoes.

Adding enough vegetable oil to coat the top of the water will prevent breeding, and other recommendations include adding dishwashing soap or pool chlorine tablets to the water. In larger tanks, some people bring in goldfish to eat the mosquito larvae.

All blood donations with the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center are tested by QualTex Laboratories for the Zika virus. Both STBTC and QualTex are subsidiaries of San Antonio-based nonprofit BioBridge Global.