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Agricultural News

OSU Researchers Among Those Monitoring Mosquitos Who Might Carry the Zika Virus

Sat, 30 Jul 2016 14:49:15 CDT

OSU Researchers Among Those Monitoring Mosquitos Who Might Carry the Zika Virus Amid ongoing global concern around Zika and an anticipated spike in international travel with the Olympics set to kickoff in Brazil Aug. 5, Oklahoma State University experts are continuing to monitor mosquito populations across the state.

Heat and recent rains, especially around urban and suburban areas such as Oklahoma City and Tulsa, have created favorable conditions for mosquito development, including the yellow fever (Aedes aegypi) and Asian tiger (Aedes albopictus) species, which both have been linked to the virus.

According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, as of July 28, there are 13 travel-associated cases of Zika in the state and no locally-acquired cases of the disease.

A limited presence of the yellow fever mosquito was discovered in Altus in late July through a collaborative surveillance project between the OSDH and OSU entomologists, including Bruce Noden, an OSU assistant professor, medical and veterinary entomology.

"The yellow fever mosquito is not commonly found in Oklahoma. Our data indicates only a very small presence of the species in isolated areas of the state," Noden said.

The main worry with Zika is with pregnant women or women who could become pregnant as well as their partners.

"If you or family members are traveling to regions such as Central and South America where there is active mosquito-borne transmission of the virus, the best course of action is take precautions when you or they return home," said Justin Talley, OSU Cooperative Extension livestock entomologist.

These precautions should include using protection during intercourse, because Zika can be sexually transmitted, as well as dressing appropriately and applying repellant if heading outside.

"If you're going into a mosquito infested area, wear long sleeves and long pants, which is not a repellant, but will keep the pests from feeding on you," Talley said. "Repellants containing at least 15 percent DEET are the most effective, but should not be used on children 3 years or younger. No repellent of any kind should be used on children 2 months or younger."

Since many products will not specifically refer to DEET, consumers should look for its active ingredient name, N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide. The higher the concentration, the longer the repellant lasts.

Some natural products, such as lemon eucalyptus oil, also are effective at repelling mosquitoes, but may need to be reapplied at frequent intervals to provide the best protection against mosquito bites.

Around the house, families can discourage a build up of mosquitoes by reducing the amount of standing water around the property. The yellow fever and Asian tiger mosquitoes are container breeding species, which lay their eggs in containers holding water and tree holes.

According to the CDC, most people infected with Zika will have no or mild symptoms. The most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain or red eyes.

The incubation period for the virus is unknown, but it is most likely a few days to a week.

"There's no way to tell whether a mosquito is infected or not, so all mosquitoes should be treated equally," Talley said. "If, despite taking precautions, you think someone in your family may have contracted Zika, they should seek medical attention and explain they've been bitten by a mosquito."

For more information about Zika and mosquitoes, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by clicking here, the Oklahoma State Department of Health by clicking here, OSU's Pest and Hazard Management archive- available here- and your local county Extension office.



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