Local officials urge anti-mosquito steps to prevent spread of Zika virus

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(Courtesy DPW)
(Courtesy DPW)

With mosquito-borne Zika virus now confirmed in two Miami neighborhoods, officials in Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Hampton Roads are urging residents to take steps to prevent mosquitoes from breeding here.

Zika is spread mainly through bites from infected mosquitoes. So far, the only confirmed cases of mosquito-borne transmission in the U.S. are in Miami, according to the website for Centers for Disease Control. There are TK cases in Virginia, the CDC says, all of which originated from travelers who came back from affected areas, not from mosquito bites in-state. But the mosquitoes that carry the virus are in Virginia Beach, including the Asian tiger mosquito and the Yellow fever mosquito. Since Zika can cause severe fetal brain defects and there is no vaccine, public-health and other officials are asking residents to act now.

“The best way to prevent Zika Virus from gaining a foothold in Virginia Beach is to keep mosquitoes from breeding,” the Department of Public Works says on its website.

Here are just a few of the steps the City suggests:

•Since mosquitos eggs survive in standing water, check at least twice a week to make sure you don’t have any in containers in your yard.

•There’s a checklist here for places and containers that might not occur to you, including boat covers, watering cans and items under your deck.

•Protect against mosquito bites when you’re outside, by wearing long sleeves and pants and using insect repellant.

Local officials elsewhere in the region are also urging precautions.

The City of Norfolk has mosquito-protection and prevention tips on its website.

And askHRgreen.org, a public-awareness coalition administered by the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission, issued a release Wednesday, asking residents to consider removing old tires from their yards and recycling them; old tires are a problem, the release said, because it can be difficult to remove all water from the interior crevice, which can become a breeding area for mosquitoes.

“Think like a mosquito, when checking your yard,” Dreda Symonds, director of the Chesapeake Mosquito Control Commission, said in the release.

You can find more information about Zika on the City’s website.