‘Chikungunya’ Mosquito Virus Safety

As the first domestically-acquired cases of the “chikungunya” virus were confirmed in Florida less than a week ago, the Orange County Health Department requesting that residents take precautions to stay safe against mosquito-borne illnesses.

Orange County Health Director, Colleen Bridger, told WCHL that areas with standing water are ideal locations for mosquitoes to breed.

“The way you’re going to get this virus is through a mosquito bite if the mosquito is infected,” says Bridger. “The best way to prevent getting this is to prevent getting mosquito bites, and the best way to do that is to eliminate any breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Birdbaths, watering cans, all of those things should be dumped out every couple of days, because if there are any larvas growing in those pools of water, they will die when the pools of water go away.”

Bridger warns about when mosquitoes are typically active and what can be done to prevent bites from happening during those times.

“Dawn and dusk are the times when mosquitoes are most active,” says Bridger. “The best thing to do is to wear long sleeves and long pants, because they can’t bite you through the material. The other thing you can do is look for bug spray. There is effective bug spray that has deet, and then there is also effective bug spray that doesn’t have deet. So, if you don’t want to use deet, there are options available to you out there.”

Bridger says that though there is no treatment for the virus, it is not lethal and must simply run its course. Those who are suffering from the illness are recommended to go see a physician regardless.

“It’s a virus, so there isn’t a treatment that anybody can give them,” says Bridger. “It’s going to have to run its course, and for the vast majority of folks, while it’s not pleasant, it does run its course, and people get better. But, if you’re just feeling absolutely horrible, you should always go to your doctor, and there are things that he or she can give you to just help you feel better while your body is fighting off the virus.”

Following the first case of chikungunya being discovered in North Carolina, Bridger affirms that the virus has not been domesticated within North Carolina, and all known cases in the state have come from people that have travelled from outside the country in specific tropical locales.

“All of the cases in North Carolina have been people largely who’ve travelled to the Caribbean or some other tropical location,” she says.

For more about other mosquito-borne illnesses and how to prevent them, click here.


‘Chikungunya’ Mosquito Virus Appears in NC

The first known case of the mosquito-borne illness named the “chikungunya” virus, has appeared in North Carolina this past Thursday, according to State health officials’ reports. The virus was found in a state resident that had recently visited the Caribbean.

A common species of mosquito in North Carolina, known as the Asian tiger mosquito, is purported to be the most likely candidate to transmit the disease. However, there have been no documented cases of the virus becoming acquired anywhere within the States, including North Carolina. Only the few 27 cases in the U.S. as of now all were found in individuals that had recently returned from the Caribbean area.

Orange County Community Health Supervisor, Judy Butler, explains how this virus can be spread:

“We have a lot of people that travel in Orange County, and people that have been to the Caribbean and other parts of the world where it exists,” says Butler. “If they are bitten by an infected mosquito while they are there, and then they come back to Orange County, they can develop illness. If they are bitten by one of our mosquitoes here, then it becomes infected, then it can turn around and bite someone else.”

Butler says North Carolina residents that have recently traveled to the Caribbean or other areas that have the illness need to alert their physicians immediately if they begin to experience the symptoms of virus following the bite. Though hardly fatal, the symptoms include a fever and extreme pains in the hands and feet.

Butler also says the best ways to prevent any risk of spreading the virus or further breeding of the Asian tiger mosquitoes are actually the most obvious ones:

“Basically, we all need to take measures to avoid mosquito bites as much as we can,” says Butler. “Mosquito bite prevention is the best thing you can do.”

Butler says this includes removing or keeping an eye on any source of standing water, wearing long sleeves and long pants in the times in which mosquitoes are most likely to bite, wearing appropriate repellent, and to properly screen doors and windows.


Mosquito Population Likely To Rise After Rainfall

HILLSBOROUGH – While Sunday’s heavy rains were a major disruption for many in Chapel Hill, one local community is pleased by the change in the weather: mosquitoes.

Charles Apperson, professor emeritus of entomology at N.C.State, says that mosquito eggs need water to hatch and these eggs may already be planted all around.

“Mosquitoes can lay eggs that are dormant and wait to be flooded,” Apperson says. “When you flood those areas and submerge eggs, they hatch.”

Apperson says one very effective way of cutting down on mosquito populations after a rainstorm is to get rid of standing water around the home.

“The ones that are produced around our homes, the Asian Tiger Mosquito, can go through their life cycle in five-to-seven days,” Apperson says. “So, after a rain, go around the yard and empty out everything you can that you find that contains water.”

Stacy Shelp, public information officer for the Orange County Health Department, adds that bacterial insecticides known as “dunks” can be used in hard-to-drain places like flower pots or gutters that still contain standing water.

“The good thing about those is that they are bacteria so they don’t harm fish or birds or other wildlife,” Shelp says. “They last about 30 days to control the mosquito larvae.”

Apperson says that even if someone totally clears a yard of water for mosquitoes to hatch in, if a neighbor does not do the same, mosquitoes that hatch over there can still spread to other yards and homes.

While the Orange County Health Department is urging residents to take precautions to avoid mosquito infestations, Apperson says that any health risk from mosquitoes is unlikely.

“These mosquito transmitted diseases are very rare diseases,” Apperson says. “Mosquitoes are mainly a nuisance.”

Apperson cautions that this does not mean residents should be negligent when clearing their yards of mosquitoes.

“It’s a numbers game,” Apperson says. “The more people that are bitten, the odds increase that someone will be bitten by a mosquito that contains a pathogen.”

Orange County officials like Shelp point out that these mosquito prevention tips should be put into place after all rainstorms, not just the flood-inducing ones seen last week.