Darien Health Department updates on the Zika Virus

Although Darien is a small place that is far away from the equator, where majority of the most dangerous Zika cases have erupted, precautionary steps against the virus are being taken in the town in preparation for the summer season.
In February of 2016, the World Health Organization declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern over the growing Zika virus epidemic that began in Brazil in early 2015. Since then, the virus has spread throughout much of Central and South America, along with the Caribbean and parts of Mexico. The United States’ close proximity to these borders has opened up national discussion over what the best methods of prevention are.

The Zika virus is transmitted through the bites of infected Aedes species mosquitoes and result in symptoms that are commonly associated with the flu, such as fever and joint pain. The most pressing issue to public safety, however, is the prominent relationship between Zika virus infections in pregnant mothers and the presence of microcephaly, a neurological birth defect, in their newborn children.

However, as  David Knauf, the Director of Health in Darien said, “at this point, it is speculative. We don’t know if local transmission will occur.” What is known, however, is that people who travel to areas affected by Zika may become infected, but may never develop extreme symptoms.

In fact, according to Knauf, “approximately 80% of people who have been bitten by mosquitoes with the Zika virus don’t know it because they either do not get sick, or their symptoms are mild. This is not a life threatening illness for the vast majority of people.”

Because of the very fact that the Zika virus may affect individuals very differently, it can be difficult to detect and target. As a result, Knauf and the Health Department have sought to address and increase public awareness of the virus.

According to the Darien Health Department’s advisory released on May 13, the state of Connecticut has a total of 91 fixed mosquito-trapping stations in 72 municipalities, two of which are located near Darien to ensure on-going and continuous surveillance. Although the network normally tests for West Nile virus during the summer months, this year, it will also survey for indications of the presence of the Zika virus and provide the town with information about mosquito species numbers and composition in the community.

“[The Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus] mosquitoes breed in artificial containers near human habitation, not in swamps or marshes, so people should keep an eye on their property to make sure there are no containers with stagnant water,” Knauf said. The best option is, therefore, to frequently clean out any items that hold water such as planters, rain barrels, buckets, bird baths, or pools. It is also important to follow instructions outlined by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which include steps to help avoid mosquito bites and address the potential threat of transmission.

As the summer progresses and more information is uncovered and understood about the Zika virus’ patterns, additional updates and public announcements will be posted regularly. For now, the latest information can be found on the Darien Health Department’s website, and was presented in more detail at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station’s symposium on vector borne diseases that was hosted on Friday, May 20.

About author

By participating in the comments section of this site you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and User Agreement

© Hearst Connecticut Media Group. All rights reserved. The Darien Times, 10 Corbin Drive, Floor 3, Darien, CT 06820

Designed by WPSHOWER

Powered by WordPress