Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 27th 2016 Contents A26
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Wednesday, January 27, 2016
The World Health Organization says
it expects the Zika virus to spread to
every country in the Western Hemi-
sphere except Canada. It says the virus
has already "spread to 21 countries and
territories of the Americas."
"Canada is off the list simply because
it s too cold for the type of mosquito that
transmits the Zika virus," reported NPR s
The illness caused by the virus has
been blamed for birth defects. The
WHO s regional office---the Pan American
Health Organization---says the type of
mosquito provides one explanation for
the virus s rapid spread.
The virus "will likely reach all countries
and territories where Aedes mosquitoes
are found," PAHO says in a statement.
The organisation attributes another
factor to the spread of the virus: "The
population of the Americas had not pre-
viously been exposed to Zika and there-
fore lacks immunity."
Additionally, some epidemiologists
think the virus may have mutated.
"This may be a new strain that s trav-
eling very quickly but we really don t
know," Yale epidemiologist Albert Ko tells
Jason says the virus was first identified
in Brazil in May 2015 and "coincided with
a marked spike in severe birth defects,
and possibly other neurological prob-
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and advice
Zika to spread through the Americas Covering your
skin with a
shirt, pants and
hat is classic
advice, but it's
it's really hot
War against mosquitoes
When Zika virus made headlines because of its
link with the neurological disorder microcephaly, it
became the latest in a growing list of mosquito-borne
viruses for Americans to worry about.
"Dengue, chikungunya and Zika are the ones that
I m very fearful of for the Gulf Coast states [such as
Florida and Texas], and Zika is the most terrifying of
all because of the horrific birth defects," said Dr Peter
Jay Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical
Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in the USA.
"Unfortunately, we (US citizens) do not have good
antiviral drugs for any of these [viruses]," he said: "That
makes prevention even more important."
Although a dengue vaccine was recently approved
in Mexico, there are no vaccines against it, or other
mosquito-borne viruses, in the United States. So pre-
vention is still the best option.
The good news is that all these viruses can be avoided
by taking measures to prevent mosquito bites, which
pass the viruses in their saliva. Whether it is the Aedes
aegypti or the Culex mosquito, steps such as wearing
insect repellant can stop them in their tracks. One of
the most important things to do is to make sure you
don t have standing water outside your house, such
as in a garbage can lid, birdbath or trays of potted
plants. Anything sitting around for more than five to
seven days can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Laura Kramer, professor in the School of Public
Health at the State University of New York at Albany,
recommends dumping standing water at least once a
week on dry ground---any larvae in the water will die
when the water evaporates and they dry out.
Many households hire exterminators or invest in
misting systems that spray pesticides outside the house.
This can be a temporary fix, at least for Culex mos-
quitoes, which buzz around outside the home, but not
for Aedes, which are much more likely to be indoors,
Kramer said. And even for Culex, if there are nearby
houses where they can breed, "new mosquitoes will
quickly repopulate [your] house," Kramer added.
It may provide more lasting relief from Culex mos-
quitoes for an exterminator to spray outside all the
houses in an area, Kramer said. However, it could be
less useful when trucks, such as ones that municipalities
hire, spray around neighborhoods if the pesticide does
not reach the standing water and areas around homes
where mosquitoes breed.
There has not been enough research to know if mist-
ing systems are effective at controlling mosquitoes and
other insect pests, and they might often end up killing
butterflies, bees and other beneficial insects that pollinate
plants. In addition, the US agencies warn that pesticides
could pose human health risks if too much is used or
they build up in the environment.
Covering your skin with a long-sleeved shirt, pants
and hat is classic advice, but it s not always realistic
when it s really hot out, Kramer said. Wearing insect
repellant can help a lot. The CDC recommends using
a product with EPA-registered ingredients, such as
DEET or picaridin, and reapplying according to the
instructions on the label or if the bugs start biting.
These products are safe for pregnant women and chil-
dren, according to the CDC, but care should be taken
not to get repellant in the eyes or mouth and adults
should apply the product for children. (CNN)
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