According to The Huffington Post, health officials have announced that U.S. cities and states need to start thinking more seriously about adopting new mosquito fighting strategies to fight the possibility of a Zika virus outbreak — especially with the coming of warmer weather.
The disease-carrying mosquitoes pose a much larger threat than did, for instance, the the bed-bug epidemic, which 99.6% of all pest professionals treated in 2015, because of health risks.
This past February saw the declaration of a global health emergency by the World Health Organization as the virus spread form Brazil to the rest of the Americas. A health defect linked to the virus can cause microcephaly in infants and Guillan-Barre syndrome, which can result in paralysis, in adults.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the mosquito species that carries the virus, Aedes Aegypti, lives in and around homes — meaning traditional insecticides are largely futile for prevention.
CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden encourages health departments to take what he calls the “four corners approach” by targeting the mosquitoes indoors and outdoors, as well as the larva and adult insects.
Frieden is optimistic. “We think we can at least have significant knockdown and potentially significant disease control,” he told state and local health officials at a “Zika Action Plan Summit” in Atlanta.
Indeed, efforts to squash the virus in its path before it could spread to the U.S. were seriously thwarted when it refused President Barack Obama’s request for $1.9 billion in special funds.
More recently, House Speaker Paul Ryan said, “There is plenty of money in the pipeline right now, money that is not going to Ebola, that was already in the pipeline, that can go immediately to Zika.”
The costs of dealing with Zika are one of the barriers many officials face; the estimated cost for Zika preparedness for New York City alone, which had previously seen outbreaks of dengue and yellow fever, is $5 million.