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Fayette Co. Health Officials Work to Detect, Prevent Mosquitoes Carrying Zika

Stu Johnson, WEKU

The Fayette County Health Department is preparing for a lengthy mosquito season. A demonstration Wednesday at Lexington’s historic McConnell Springs focused on revised control techniques.

While none of the mosquitoes carrying the virus have been seen in Kentucky, local Zika cases have occurred in Florida and Texas.

Environmental Health Team Leader Luke Mathias says it’s hard to know if Zika-carrying mosquitoes will invade the Bluegrass. “We’re gonna prepare like that is a real possibility. Until we hear different from CDC and some of the other agencies we’re gonna prepare as if it is threat to us,” said Mathias.

Credit Stu Johnson, WEKU News

Health Commissioner Kraig Humbaugh says all previous Zika cases in Kentucky have been travel-related, but local transmission is always possible over time.  “That’s why we’re really focusing on controlling our mosquito populations because zika is most worrisome concerning for pregnant women,” explained Humbaugh.

The zika virus is known to cause birth defects in some babies.

It’s possible mosquitoes carrying the virus could make their way to Kentucky this summer.  If a Zika case is reported locally, Environmental Health Specialist Barrett Schoek says back pack spraying will be done.  “Spray the perimeter of the home and neighboring homes of the confirmed case of Zika and then the truck sprayer will spray the zip code or that community,” Schoek said.

Credit Stu Johnson, WEKU News

In addition to asking homeowners to eliminate standing water, and wear repellent and protective clothing, officials will use more targeted spraying.  Data collected from seven traps will be used to determine where best to spray.

© 2017 WEKU

Stu Johnson is a reporter/producer at WEKU in Lexington, Kentucky.
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