By Mike Lightbourn
Zika, the mosquito transmitted virus which tragically may be linked to shrunken brains in children, is cause for widespread concern.
Besides the health implications, no-one’s going to want to buy a property in an area that harbours the culprit Aedes aegypti mosquito.
Scientists predict zika will spread to almost every country in the world.
However, there are steps you and your neighbours can take to discourage these pests from moving into your area.
The Bahamas government has been proactive, implementing a fogging programme.
Now it’s up to responsible home owners to band together to help prevent these disease spreading mosquitoes from invading their neighbourhoods.
WHAT’s ALL THE FUSS ABOUT?
Scientists point to growing evidence of a connection to microcephaly, a brain disorder that’s been linked to a growing number of head defects in new born babies.
The symptoms of the zika virus are similar to dengue fever, but generally much milder. They may include flu-like aches, inflammation of the eyes, joint pain and rashes. Some people don’t experience any of these symptoms.
There is no known cure
The zika virus is transmitted by daytime-active mosquitoes
WHERE IT BEGAN
Discovered in monkeys in 1947 in Uganda’s Zika Forest, the first human case was recorded in Nigeria in 1954.
There have been zika outbreaks in various areas from time to time, but the virus has “exploded” in the last year, sweeping through Latin America, notably Brazil, and the Caribbean.
The mosquitoes are now in the United States and portions of Europe.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
The best way to fight zika is to clear stagnant water where mosquitoes breed and protect against mosquito bites
Get rid of any standing water on your property and adjoining vacant land and sweep the area for standing water after every rainfall
Mosquitos breed in stagnant water in flower vases, uncovered barrels, buckets, ponds and discarded tires and any other receptacle that holds water.
Even toilets, if not flushed regularly, provide a potential breeding ground. So if you don’t use all your bathrooms on a regular basis, flush the toilets to prevent the water from becoming stagnant.
An often overlooked breeding ground is the popular bromeliad plant.
The little reservoirs in the middle of the plant act as a cup that collects water and debris. This is the perfect environment for mosquitoes to lay their eggs.
Pet bowls of water should be changed every day.
HELP IS AT HAND
Ponds, septic tanks, bromeliads and other vessels that collect water can be treated with a simple application of a safe bacterial toxin to kill mosquito larvae.
The product comes in granular and doughnut-shaped pieces and may be ordered online (google “mosquito dunks”) if your local nursery doesn’t carry it.
You will need to reapply after perhaps 45 to 60 days. Make sure you read the instructions.
An inexpensive alternative to the mosquito dunks may be right in your kitchen cabinet.
A little cooking oil will smother mosquito larvae. In the case of bromeliads, a drop applied with a medicine dropper is recommended every 20 days.
Mosquitoes are territorial and don’t travel far.
Step up to the plate! Host a community meeting and encourage your neighbours to take the appropriate steps. This will go a long way in discouraging these pests from invading your area.
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