Health department officials share Zika prevention plan details

A researcher holds a container with female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes at the Biomedical Sciences Institute in the Sao Paulo's University, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Monday, Jan. 18, 2016. The Aedes aegypti is a vector for transmitting the Zika virus. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

COLUMBUS (WCMH)–It is almost mosquito season as temperatures begin to rise. This summer brings new fear of the Zika virus here in central Ohio.

Kelli Dodd, Columbus Public Health’s vector control program manager says she encourages people to remove tires that hold water from their property, change bird bath water often, and monitor rain barrels closely.

“I feel that it is more important than ever people are addressing standing water issues on their property so we can eliminate those mosquito populations,” she says.

There are fears people infected with Zika while on vacation in South America or the Caribbean could bring the virus home to central Ohio.

“We’re more concerned about travelers who go to areas with local transmission,” Dodd says. “If they get infected there, they could come back here and potentially spread the disease with mosquitoes when they get back here.”

Once an Asian tiger mosquito bites someone infected with Zika, they can transmit the virus to other humans.

Only 20 people of people infected with Zika show symptoms. Therefore, all central Ohioans coming home from warmer climates abroad are asked to take special precautions.

Ohio Department of Health Medical Director Mary DiOrio says, “We are encouraging people that when they return from trips abroad, they continue to wear insect repellent for three weeks after their trip.”

If a person does test positive for Zika, Columbus Public Health will use a special mosquito control plan around the individual’s home.

“The spraying for mosquitos with Zika will be slightly different than what we are used to with West Nile Virus,” Dodd says.

The plan calls for daytime spraying by people on foot.

“More of a backpack spray or handheld sprayer within yards of people who would be infected with Zika,” Dodd says.

Right now there is no test to determine if a mosquito has the Zika Virus or not. Health officials say Zika Virus will only be confirmed in a region once a person tests positive.

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