Zika, Dengue, and Chikungunya, Oh My!

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Zika – slight fever and joint pain, but causing serious birth defects. Dengue – fever, headache, back and joint pain, some fatalities. Chikungunya – fever, back and joint pain, headache, vomiting. All these bad characters are on our doorstep, it is highly likely that we will be dealing with them here in South Texas soon. We South Texans like to travel to the Caribbean, to Mexico, and to Central America, for vacation or to visit family. And while the mosquito vector doesn’t typically travel fast or far, we do, and will likely be bringing the virus home with us sooner or later, as Miami already has. We have the known vector mosquitoes Aedes aegypti and the Aedes albopictus here now, sneaky day and night biters, and they would be so happy to bite us and spread around these horrible diseases. So how shall we get ready? It’s fortunate that the diseases are not widespread here at this point, and so we can start now getting into new habits that will limit the spread once they show up.

The presence of both these mosquitoes is largely a result of our bad suburban habits. They reproduce in small amounts of water, such as old tires, neglected kiddie pools and toy trucks or wagons, any bucket or garden cart holding water, rain gutters, low areas in the yard, even a saucer under a pot. So throw away what you can, dump what you must, use Mosquito Bits (Bacillus thuringiensis israelinsis, non-toxic to all but mosquitoes) in small amounts of water like bird baths or saucers, Mosquito Dunks (also Bt) in low areas or ditches, put guppies (mosquito fish) in ornamental ponds. Clean or re-level rain gutters, cut grass frequently, apply Mosquito Beater granules (lemon grass, cedar, and other natural oils) under shrubs or in lawn or groundcover close to outdoor sitting areas, spray Mosquito Beater liquid (permethrin) in shaded entryways to kill and repel mosquitoes that might enter the house. These vectoring mosquitoes usually feed within a few hundred yards of where they hatch, so your own yard is most important to control hatching and biting, and your neighbors next most important.

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Map courtesy of: cdc.gov

For further information, see: http://www.contagionlive.com/news/southern-texas-primed-for-an-outbreak-of-dengue-fever

James JAMES

 

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