The Known and Unknown Still Surrounding Zika: August 2016 Update

As a mosquito control expert, Mosquito Joe is making an effort to provide continuously updated information about the ongoing Zika virus situation in the U.S. and around the world.  Our Zika Virus Information Page contains more details about the mosquito-borne illness, but there are many other updates to do with transmission, areas where the virus is spreading, available resources, and scientific research that are important to disperse as well.  We encourage you to check our blog continuously along with our website and Facebook page for the most current information about Zika virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses.

First Locally Transmitted Cases

As of August 1, 2016, 14 cases of locally-transmitted Zika virus have been confirmed, all within a 1-square-mile radius north of downtown Miami.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are coordinating with Florida state health officials to provide funding, mosquito control, and response efforts. Six of the confirmed cases showed no outward signs of Zika and were identified through door-to-door community surveys through the Department of Health. A travel advisory is expected for pregnant women or those thinking of becoming pregnant to avoid this specific area in Miami.  Florida Governor Rick Scott has also requested the CDC to enact an emergency response team to help officials in the area respond to and control the outbreak.

Zika Virus Stats

Zika virus under a microscope
Zika virus under a microscope

As of July 27, 2016, there are 1,657 reported travel-associated cases of Zika virus in the U.S.  15 were sexually transmitted, and 5 resulted in the birth defect disorder Guillain-Barré syndrome. In total 47 states have reported cases of Zika, with New York (449 cases) and Florida (307 cases) having the most occurrences.

The symptoms of Zika virus remain the same: fever, joint pain, rash, and conjunctivitis although most people infected with Zika will not show any symptoms at all. An infection can be confirmed via blood or urine test, so contact your doctor if you have any questions or concerns. There is still no vaccine or medication to treat Zika virus, so doctors recommend plenty of fluid and rest.

Response to Zika

Now that Zika virus is in the U.S. and there appears to be no hope of a nationwide response from the federal government, what can local and state health officials do to be prepared? Luckily, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published dozens of resources for health professionals to consult to prepare for and deal with a local transmission of Zika virus.

  • CDC Zika Response PlanCDC Interim Response Plan – This document outlines the CDC’s response plan to the first locally transmitted cases of Zika in the U.S. It includes protocol for professionals to follow after confirming cases, specific definitions for what a Zika transmission area is, and a timeline for communicating with the public about the situation.
  • Top 10 Zika Response Tips – Many areas of the country will have to deal with travel-associated Zika cases if not locally transmitted ones as well. The CDC has assembled this webpage to support health and emergency professionals in response to the situation with tips, links to resources, and action items.
  • Zika Communication Planning Guide – Perhaps most important in dealing with Zika virus, is effective communication with the public. The CDC has developed its own communication plan for states to use that includes key messages about the health risks and effects of Zika. Among the resources are fact sheets, infographics, videos, Zika prevention kits, digital press kit, and more!

Pregnancy and the Zika Virus

There has been a lot of research over the past few months to better understand how Zika virus affects pregnant women and their babies. The CDC now has suggested timeframes for waiting to get pregnant after possible exposure to Zika. Women displaying Zika symptoms should wait at least 8 weeks after symptoms start, and men displaying symptoms should wait at least 6 months. Whether trying to get pregnant or not, women should consult their healthcare provider on best practices for pregnancy planning and/or prevention.

Recent developments have proven there is still much to be learned about Zika virus and its effects. The upcoming Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil are a source of concern as hundreds of thousands of people will travel to a highly affected area, potentially ramping the spread of the virus.The World Health Organization says there is a low risk of individuals contracting and spreading Zika at the Olympics due to it taking place during Brazil’s winter months when the mosquito population is at its lowest. Regardless, the health community is still on high-alert because of the uncertainty around Zika’s transmission and endurance.

While we are not health experts, we are experts in mosquito control, and we feel it is part of our job and contribution to the larger community to provide these updates on a potentially very dangerous situation. Please call your local Mosquito Joe to find out how we can provide you with an added layer of defense against mosquito-borne illnesses like Zika virus.  And as always, check back for new information as the situation develops.


Rio 2016: How Zika is Impacting the Summer Olympics

On Friday, August 5th, thousands of people will descend on Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the opening ceremonies of the 2016 Olympic Games. For the next two weeks, the world’s greatest athletes will compete for medals on the world stage. However, what is usually a highlight for the international community, bringing countries and athletes together from all over the world, is proving to be a divisive and perhaps dangerous event.

Brazil is facing a barrage of issues from terrorist threats, an ongoing presidential impeachment scandal, and the Zika virus. Since we are mosquito control experts and not political pundits, we’ll focus on the latter of these problems, but it’s important to understand the broader struggle Brazil is dealing with heading into the Games.

The Bigger Picture

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil crowded beach
Crowded Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

It’s been a question for months whether or not Brazil is ready to host the estimated 500,000 people who are traveling to Rio next month for the Olympics. The country is in the middle of its worst economic crisis since the 1930s, police officers are protesting and striking over delayed paychecks, Olympic facilities are not complete, and Brazil is one of the countries most highly affected by the Zika virus.

Over 160,000 cases of Zika have been reported in Brazil so far this year. Since October 2015, 1,657 cases of microcephaly and other congenital birth defects were reported in newborns. Despite the high numbers, Brazilian health officials claim the rate of new cases in Rio is decreasing rapidly from 5,000 a week earlier in the year to just 30 a week in June.

When addressing specific concerns about the Olympics expediting the spread of Zika, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the risk of becoming infected during the Games is low. The half million expected visitors represent less than 0.25% of the travel to Zika-affected countries in 2015, meaning the Games’ contribution to the spread of the virus is small. Likewise, health officials claim that because the Games occur during Brazil’s winter months, the mosquito population will be much lower and more inactive than in the summer. However, minimum August temperatures in Rio are between 62 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit, which is plenty warm for mosquitoes to thrive.

Domestic and International Response

Brazilian government and health officials have taken steps in recent months to combat Zika virus and the spread of the Aedes Aegypti mosquito ahead of the Games. The city of Rio claims to have sent over 3,500 Health Vigilance Agents to inspect buildings for potential mosquito breeding grounds, claiming to have visited over 5 million buildings so far in 2016.  It is unclear what effect, if any, these agents have had so far.

Zika Virus Research
A Zika virus researcher at the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases Vaccine Research Center pipets samples.

The Brazilian Health Ministry has released an app designed to monitor spread of Zika, microcephaly, and Guillain-Barre Syndrome. The app, called Guardioes de Saude, is available in seven languages and will allow users to report daily health conditions and symptoms associated with Zika. This information is then transferred to a map, helping users avoid critical areas and helping health officials track the spread of the virus.

Due partially to the fact that Zika is sexually-transmittable, the Brazilian Health Ministry is distributing 450,000 condoms to Olympic athletes to prevent unplanned pregnancies and the spread of disease.  With 10,500 athletes set to compete, that’s 42 condoms per person. The Olympics have long had a reputation for “romance” amongst the athletes, but Zika virus is creating a new need for safety.

While many scientists are calling for the Games to be postponed or move, many are using the Olympics as an opportunity to study Zika virus. According to a Newsweek article from July 1, 2016, “The National Institutes of Health recently announced a grant award to a group of researchers who plan to examine the long-term reproductive impact of Zika by using a unique cohort composed of Olympic athletes, coaches, other staff members of the U.S. Olympic Committee and even spouses of participating athletes.” The study is designed to help scientists understand how long Zika remains active in the body and available for transmission.

Between the political and economic upheaval, security threats, and concern over the Zika virus, there is likely to be non-athletic news from the 2016 Olympics right up until the closing ceremonies. Many athletes such as golfers Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy have already decided to skip the Games because of Zika and the lack of knowledge about its reproductive effects. Thousands more, however, are forging ahead to perform at the one of the world’s greatest competitions.

We wish the best of luck to all the athletes and hope for a safe and enjoyable experience for all those involved. We will continue to update you on the Olympics and the Zika virus situation in general. Please visit the Mosquito Joe Zika Virus Information Page for continuous news. And if you or someone you know is in need of mosquito control services, give your local Mosquito Joe a call today for a free quote.

Go team USA!


Mosquito Joe Gives Back: Mosquito Control Awareness Week 2016

As you can imagine for an outdoor mosquito control company, summer is a very busy time around our office. However, for one week each year we take some time to step back and really focus on the reason we do what we do: the importance of mosquito control and educating the public.

This year National Mosquito Control Awareness Week was June 26-July 2.  It is one of the most important weeks during our year for many reasons. We love raising awareness abNational Mosquito Control Awareness Weekout the importance of mosquito control, to educate people about the risks of vector borne illnesses, and of course helping to bring to light solutions to keep your yard healthy and swat-free. 2016 included lots of news headlines about mosquitoes and mosquito control as Zika virus made its way into the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of July 6 there are currently 1,133 travel cases of Zika in the United States and 330 of those are pregnant women. And while no vaccine exists for the virus, experts agree that avoiding mosquitoes is the best way to prevent Zika and keep it from spreading.

So, as you can imagine this was a big topic for mosquito control awareness, as it was a much needed conversation. Our mosquito control services have been a welcome added defense against mosquito borne illness this year, and our franchisees have spent a lot of time speaking with their customers about this very subject. As if that weren’t enough, mosquitoes don’t only affect us humans! That’s right, they can affect our furry friends too. Mosquitoes are also known to carry diseases such as heartworm, so it’s important to keep your four legged friends protected too.  Fortunately, our barrier treatments help eliminate fleas and ticks as well.

Giving Back

Mosquito Control Awareness WeekBy far, the biggest part of the week and the one we most look forward to is giving back as a company.  For the fourth year, Mosquito Joe locations across the country partnered with local blood donation centers for our Beat the Bloodsuckers campaign. For every new customer that signed up for mosquito control services during Mosquito Control Awareness Week, we donated 10% of the sale to those local blood banks.

This year we had the privilege of partnering with twenty seven centers across the country and with the American Red Cross being our largest partner, this money is going to help them with the disaster relief they provide every day in our communities. The American Red Cross is always on standby to provide assistance to the military, blood disaster relief to the community, and we feel honored to be able to help with their wonderful cause. Because of our amazing customers, we were also able to donate over $10,300 in just one week to the blood centers we partnered with.

Mosquito Joe Spreading the News

Our franchisees did an amazing job spreading our message around in their communities during Mosquito Control Awareness Week. Between news articles and TV segments, the amount of people who were reached getting mosquito control information from Mosquito Joe was impressive. Check some of them out here:

We’re so grateful to everyone that made our 2016 Beat the Bloodsuckers campaign the best yet and a giant highlight for us as a company this year. Thanks to our participating franchisees, each blood bank that we partnered with, and our AMAZING customers that helped make this year’s Beat the Bloodsuckers campaign the huge success that it was.


Happy National Grilling Month

It was no surprise to us that July is National Grilling Month. Summer is in full swing, it kicks off with the Fourth of July holiday and summer means longer days and more sunlight to enjoy. There’s a lot of reasons grilling is one of the best ways to prepare a meal. You’re enjoying your yard, it can be very cost effective and sometimes you can cook the entire meal all together over the same burners! Of course, we hope you’ve got a mosquito free yard to grill in (if not, what are you waiting for? Give us a call!), so in celebration of this glorious month, we thought we would share some tips and recipes.

General grilling tips

According to the National Fire Protection Association, each year an average of 8,900 home fires are caused by grilling, and close to half of all injuries involving grills are due to thermal burns. While nearly half of the people who grill do it year-round, July is not only National Grilling Month, it’s also the peak month for grill fires. To ensure you grill safe this month, here are some safety tips as you’re firing up the charcoal or propane grills.

  • Most grills should only be used outdoors. This goes for all charcoal and propane grills.
  • The grill should be placed away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Keep children and pets away from the grill area to avoid accidents.
  • Keep your grill clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grills and in trays below the grill.
  • Never leave your grill unattended.
  • If you’re using a propane grill and you smell gas, turn the burners and propane off. If you continue to smell gas, call 911 immediately and clear the area.

And now for the recipes!

You didn’t really think we would have a whole post on grilling without some of our favorite recipes, did you? If there’s one thing we love almost as much as being outside at Mosquito Joe, it’s food!

Grill Recipes“I’m a Buffalo NY Girl at heart and everyone from WNY (Western NY) knows what Chiavetta’s is! I order this stuff by the case and love to grill with it all summer long.  My go-to protein is chicken thighs marinated in Chiavetta’s for at least a couple of hours.”  ~ Jodi Ramoino

The Grilled Hawaiian Teriyaki Burger is the next on our list, and according to Meghan it is “God’s gift to Earth.” (Seriously, those were her words. Must be pretty good!) You can check the recipe out over at SkinnyTaste. Who doesn’t love a good burger recipe that also isn’t too bad on your waistline?
Grilling Recipes Salmon

And from our resident foodie Kieran Scott, we bring you the Cedar plank salmon. As Kieran put it, “Y’all need this recipe in your lives. Enjoy. Serve with grilled asparagus and finish it off with watermelon. Perfect summer dish. Enjoy with a nice sweet tea vodka lemonade and you’ve got yourself a meal.” Don’t mind if we do!

Whatever you’re grilling this month, remember to follow our safety tips so you and your family have a delicious AND safe grilling experience. If you haven’t gotten on the schedule yet for our mosquito barrier treatments, we promise it’s the perfect addition to preparing and eating meals al fresco. Give your local Mosquito Joe a call and they’ll be happy to give you a free quote. Happy grilling, friends!


5 Biggest Fourth of July Celebrations in the U.S.

5 Biggest Fourth of July Celebrations in the U.S.

The Fourth of July, one of America’s most beloved holidays, means the summer season is in full swing.  Warm weather, cookouts, fireworks, and families gathered together can make for the perfect day.  Not to mention, there’s no pressure to get anyone a gift, which makes it even better!  Wherever you live, chances are your community has a much-loved Independence Day tradition, whether it’s a parade down Main Street, a neighborhood barbecue, or a great fireworks display at night.  But a variety of reasons could take you out of town this year, which means missing some of your hometown Fourth of July charm.  Although you’ll probably find patriotic festivities at every turn, if you are lucky enough to be in these cities, you’ll be privy to some of the largest and most spectacular fireworks displays and celebrations in the country.

  1. Washington D.C. – It’s no surprise that the nation’s capital makes this list!  Hundreds of thousands of people fill the National Mall every July for the 17.5 minute show that can be seen from miles away.  The day leading up to the display is action-packed as well with a parade, United States Army Band concert, and Capitol Fourth concert.  Guests can also arrive hours early to visit the surrounding monuments.
  2. New York City– Macy’s 4th of July fireworks are the largest display in the country.  Lasting for over 25 minutes and attracting millions of attendees, these pyrotechnics boast over 50,000 effects.  This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Macy’s show and will be accompanied by a two-hour television special with guests such as Kenny Chesney and Meghan Trainor.
  3. Boston, Massachusetts – The Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular gets national attention as well as one of the most extravagant in the country.  Pre-luded during the day by publicly televised countdown and concert, the fireworks display lasts over 20 minutes and can be seen from anywhere along the Charles River.  This year’s performers are Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas along with the Boston Pops.
  4. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – Considered the birthplace of America, Philadelphia boasts one of the largest 4th of July celebrations with its annual Wawa Welcome America event.  And don’t worry if you can’t make it on July 4th.  This celebration lasts all week long, this year from June 27 to July 4.  It includes special museum exhibits, fun runs and 5k races, outdoor movies, concerts, and ends with the fireworks display along Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
  5. Addison, Texas – Independence Day is all about celebrating the underdog, right?  So, we’ll close out the list with a small town in Texas about 20 minutes north of Dallas: Addison’s Kaboom Town!  The event takes place every July 3 from 5pm to midnight in Addison Circle Park.  The day is filled with music and food along with the Addison Air Show.  The town of only 15,000 attracts over 500,000 visitors for the event, and the American Pyrotechnics Association has even dubbed it one of the best displays in the U.S.

Whether you’re staying at home or traveling elsewhere, we wish everyone a very happy Fourth of July!  You can check out more spectacular fireworks displays here.  Be sure to share your holiday pictures with us on Facebook (@mosquitojoe), and tell us how you celebrated.  And if you’re the lucky one hosting an Independence Day bash, don’t forget to call your local Mosquito Joe to make sure your yard and your guests are protected against mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks during the festivities.