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.

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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!

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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.

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Zika Situation Report: June 2016

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.

Transmission and Areas Effected

  • There have been no major updates within the last couple of months in the ways Zika is transmitted.  The virus is predominantly spread via an infected Aedes mosquito.  However, it can also be sexually transmitted from an infected male to his partner during unprotected sex, and there have been multiple cases in Brazil of Zika spreading via blood transfusion.  Most notably, Zika can be transmitted from an infected pregnant woman to her child during pregnancy and/or childbirth, which can lead to microcephaly or Guillain-Barre syndrome.
  • There has been a second case of a baby born with microcephaly in the U.S., this time in New Jersey.  The mother was infected with Zika in Honduras, but traveled to the U.S. where she has family and the opportunity for better medical care.
  • As of June 15, 2016, there are 755 reported cases of travel-related Zika virus in the United States, 234 of them are pregnant women, 11 of them sexually transmitted, and 3 of them resulting in microcephaly or Guillain-Barre Syndrome.  There are still no locally transmitted cases, although Zika is expected to arrive in the U.S. within the following month.

Response

  • There is still no federal funding in place to combat Zika virus as Congress is currently working to reconcile two separate bills, a $1.1 billion version passed by the Senate and a $622 million version passed by the House which simply re-allocated funding meant to fight Ebola.
  • In the meantime, the White House and CDC have released a national Zika response plan to help state officials best handle the situation.  Although the plan has not been released to the public, it “includes detailed guidance about the protocol for federal and state officials when Zika spreads to the U.S. for the first time.”
  • As one of the leading health experts in the country, the CDC is not only tracking the spread of the disease but is also doing its best to predict the range of impact Zika will have in the U.S.  The most recent vector surveillance maps estimate the range of mosquitoes that transmit Zika could reach the entire width of the country and as far north as New Hampshire.

Resources

  • The CDC has created a “Zika and Sexual Transmission” webpage that serves as a comprehensive resource with information about transmission, prevention techniques, and advice for couples trying to get pregnant.  There is information about getting tested along with several infographics targeted towards expectant mothers and men with pregnant partners.
  • On a similar note, the CDC also created a webpage dedicated to providing parents with information on how to talk to their children about Zika, signs to watch out for, and tips for controlling mosquitoes at home.
  • As Zika moves closer to the United States, the CDC is working to amplify resources for pregnant women living in effected areas.  This Zika Prevention Kit  and tips for pregnant women in areas with Zika are great tools to make sure you have everything at your disposal to keep those mosquitoes away; i.e. netting, sprays, water treatment tabs, etc.
  • MothertoBaby is an alternative resource sponsored by the CDC.  It is “the nation’s leading authority and most trusted source of evidence-based information on the safety of medications and other exposures during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.  MothertoBaby provides pregnant mothers access to health experts on an immediate and personal basis.
  • Lastly, the CDC has established a U.S. Zika Pregnancy Registry, working with state, local, and tribal organizations to “collect information about pregnancy and infant outcomes following laboratory evidence of Zika virus infection during pregnancy. The data collected through this registry will be used to update recommendations for clinical care, to plan for services for pregnant women and families affected by Zika virus, and to improve prevention of Zika virus infection during pregnancy. “

While we are not health experts, we are experts in mosquito control.  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.

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Zika Virus Update – April 2016

As a mosquito control company, Mosquito Joe is constantly monitoring the ongoing Zika virus situation.  Every day there are news stories about research breakthroughs, new areas affected, and developments in surveillance.  In an effort to spread awareness of the illness and its wake of issues, we will do our best to publish updated information on a regular basis. One source of such information is the Mosquito Joe Zika Virus webpage with FAQs, prevention measures, and external health resources.  The updates below cover the past couple months of the Zika virus situation both domestically and abroad.

Areas Affected

As of April 18, 2016, 42 countries worldwide report active Zika virus transmission. Most are concentrated throughout Central and South America, however, countries in the Pacific Island and Africa also made the list.

As of April 20, 2016, 40 U.S. states have reported 388 travel-associated Zika virus cases. 33 of those individuals were pregnant, with one case resulting in Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Eight cases were sexually transmitted from individuals who had traveled to an affected country. No cases were acquired stateside. States with the highest number of reported cases include Florida (84), New York (60), California (29), and Texas (30).

Be sure to consult the CDC for updated information and travel notices. Health professionals urge travelers planning to go to affected areas to either postpone their plans or at least take necessary precautions to protect themselves against mosquito bites.

Transmission

The primary source of Zika virus transmission is still through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. This is the same mosquito that spreads dengue fever and chikungunya virus. Aedes are most aggressive during the day, but can also bite at night.

Pregnant Women

One of the most significant developments over the last few weeks has been the official link made between Zika virus and the birth defects microcephaly and Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Both conditions can cause neurological damage and long-term disability in infants. A pregnant mother infected with Zika can pass the virus onto the fetus during pregnancy and/or birth.

Sexually Transmitted

There have been several sexually transmitted cases of Zika as well, creating another possible transmission danger. Currently, the virus is only known to pass from an infected male to his sex partners.   It can be spread before symptoms manifest, while symptoms are showing, and even after symptoms stop.

Blood Transfusions

Several reports of Zika cases via blood transfusion were reported in Brazil but have not been confirmed yet. The reports are currently being investigated. In areas like the U.S., without active Zika transmission, the FDA recommends blood donors to postpone donations for at least 4 weeks if they are at risk of infection through travel or sexual contact.

 Response and Surveillance Improvements

As concern over Zika continues to spread, surveillance and response systems to monitor the virus have improved.

National organizations such as the CDC and Pan American Health Organization have created interactive maps to track the presence of Zika virus in countries throughout the world. Updated on an almost daily basis, these resources can help the public see the range of impact Zika has internationally. Smaller institutions such as the Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH) have also contributed. BCH is a world leader in public health threats, managing tools such as healthmap.org, which deliver real-time surveillance information on a variety of illnesses, including Zika virus.

The World Health Organization recently published several resources that are some of the most comprehensive and up-to-date available. The Zika Virus Situation Report provides a global overview of the virus including information on its distribution, transmission, and link to microcephaly and Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

The Zika Strategic Response Framework and Joint Operations Plan outlines how WHO will provide support to affected countries, build capacity to prevent further outbreaks and control them when they do occur, and to facilitate research that will help us better understand this virus and its effects.  It’s a great way to learn about the global impact of Zika and how it impacts the international community.

Lastly, the WHO Zika App aims to provide essential information on Zika virus and its suspected complications. Designed primarily for health care workers and responders, the app can also be a source of real-time information for the general public.  It provides Zika updates and research, news, and response efforts right at your fingertips.

Research & Development

Research into Zika virus has only increased in recent months, providing new insights into the makeup of the virus. There has also been an increased push for more funding attributed to Zika as there is still no vaccine or treatment for those infected.

In late March, a team of researchers at Purdue University determined the structure of Zika virus. This discovery aids greatly in the development of a vaccine as the unique structure helps explain differences in how Zika is transmitted and how it affects humans in contrast to other mosquito-borne illnesses.

Funding for Zika virus research, prevention, and development has been in a state of flux as Congress debates its necessity. In February, President Obama submitted a $1.8 billion bill to provide emergency funding surveillance, response, and research domestically and internationally. The bill has been stalled in Congress ever since due to hesitation about the need for such an expensive response.

Since that time, the White House convened a summit at the CDC in early April to brainstorm ways to fight the virus and garner support for more funding and action. As a temporary solution to the lack of funding, over $500 million in unused Ebola crisis money has been re-dedicated to the fight against Zika. But Congress and health professionals insist more is needed, urging their colleagues to pass the initial $1.9 billion bill proposed by the President.

Another bill signed into law recently encourages pharmaceutical companies to ramp up vaccine and treatment development. It puts Zika virus on the FDA’s priority review voucher program, expediting treatments through the development and approval process, which can often take years.


The CDC provides an extensive list of steps you can take to prevent mosquito bites, protecting yourself and your family from mosquito-borne illnesses.  Of course, you can always call your local Mosquito Joe for a customized mosquito control treatment for your yard that will help you enjoy the outdoors this summer.

We will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates like these whenever possible.  For continuous information and news, please visit the Mosquito Joe Zika Virus information page, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization.

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