Zika Virus: How concerned should El Paso residents be?
We have all heard the news surrounding Zika virus, and you’re probably wondering what type of risk this could pose to you and your family here in El Paso, TX. The simple answer is that this is more of a tropical disease, carried by mosquitoes, that is affecting other parts of the world, particularly tropical Central and South America. However, states in the southern US, including Texas, are at risk in the coming months. Florida and other parts of the Gulf Coast may very well have an epidemic waiting to happen, and we might as well educate ourselves about the virus should it decide to affect El Paso.
Zika virus is spread primarily through Aedes aegypti, a species of mosquito that is common in tropical areas.
Spread to the United States
“I believe all of the conditions where they’re present in Latin America and the Caribbean are also present in Texas and other Gulf Coast states,” said Hotez, who predicted the number of Aedes aegypti, which already reside in this part of the U.S., could start multiplying in March, when the weather warms up. “Which means we have time [to prepare]— and now’s the time to do it,” he said.
But controlling the main mosquito that carries Zika may prove more challenging in the U.S. than in Latin America, where governments are going into homes and spraying walls with pesticide, Hotez and Conlon said. Unlike other common mosquitoes in the U.S., they like to feed on humans during the day, which means people who live in homes without window screens would have a high infection risk, Hotez said.
“This is a day-biting mosquito, and that gets to be problematic because if you’re spraying when children are out playing … we’re going to have to make a better assessment of that,” Hotez said.
Conlon said standard mosquito control practices in the U.S. won’t work on the Aedes aegypti.
“Down in Central and South America, they’re using these thermal foggers— that can work and knock down the mosquito, but in the U.S, they’re not going to allow federal and state folks to allow them into their homes to do that,” Conlon said. “It’s not something that mosquito abatement will do, but public pressure may make them do that. People might demand something like that of their own volition.”
We must all be vigilant to prevent the spread of this disease. Make sure to carefully consider any travel plans you have this year, and avoid affected regions of the world. Pregnant women need to be especially careful, considering this is a disease that has a most serious affect on the developing fetuses. Make sure to install screens as soon as possible, before the weather warms up any more. Keeping mosquitoes out of your home is one of the most important things you can do. Be sure to remove any standing water around your yard. And be sure to call us if a mosquito problem persists despite you best efforts. We offer residential pest control service and termite inspection in El Paso that is very effective at controlling mosquito populations around your yard.