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Hurricane Matthew Could Boost Zika's Spread: Officials

Hurricane Matthew Could Boost Zika's Spread: Officials

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By    |   Tuesday, 04 October 2016 03:52 PM


Florida officials are warning that Hurricane Matthew could complicate efforts to control Zika by interrupting mosquito-spraying efforts and boosting numbers of the biting bugs that spread the virus. The warnings Tuesday came as officials reported six new suspected non-travel-related cases of Zika.

The new cases — two in Miami Beach and four more in Miami-Dade County — bring to 139 the number of cases where local mosquitoes are believed to have caused the infections, as opposed to people who have acquired the virus by traveling outside the U.S. to places where Zika is more common.

“Florida’s small case cluster is not considered widespread transmission, however, pregnant women are advised to avoid non-essential travel to the impacted area in Miami-Dade County,” state officials said in a statement.

“If you are pregnant and must travel or if you live or work in the impacted area, protect yourself from mosquito bites by wearing insect repellent, long clothing and limiting your time outdoors.

Hurricane Matthew is expected to halt mosquito control efforts, involving aerial pesticide spraying, to stop the spread of the Zika virus in South Florida later this week.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said spraying pesticides would not be effective in heavy winds expected later this week and that "the Zika prevention efforts will have to stop during those times."

In addition, heavy rain from the storm could lead to widespread flooding, increasing the areas where mosquitoes breed.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott also urged residents and business owners to drain standing water from their properties before and after the hurricane to keep mosquito populations from growing.

In addition to the six new homegrown cases reported by Florida officials Tuesday, 718 travel-related Zika infections have been recorded in Florida and 103 involving pregnant women, according to the new report.

In addition, the Florida Health Department said it has conducted testing for the Zika virus for more than 8,681 people statewide.

All county health departments are now offering free Zika risk assessment and testing to any pregnant woman who would like to be tested.

The Zika virus can make anyone sick for up to a week with fever, rash, joint pain, red eyes, and other symptoms.

But it's especially dangerous for women who are pregnant because it boosts the risk of babies born with microcephaly, a condition marked by an abnormally small head and incomplete brain development.

It is also believed to be linked to Guillain-Barre syndrome in adults and possibly neurological disorders in some people.

There is no vaccine or treatment for the virus, making prevention essential. Health experts recommend taking the following precautions:
• Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants outdoors.
• Eliminate standing water where mosquitoes breed.
• Use repellents to keep mosquitoes away.
• Use air conditioning and window screens if possible.
• Call your health care provider if you are at risk of infection.

Consumer Reports released new rankings of mosquito repellents that offer the best protection against Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes, the type that carry the Zika virus. The most effective products:

• Sawyer Fisherman's Formula Picaridin.
• Natrapel 8 Hour, with 20 percent picaridin.
• Off! Deepwoods VIII, w/25 percent deet.
• Repel Lemon Eucalyptus.

Women who are pregnant or breast feeding can safely use deet, picaridin, lemon eucalyptus, and IR3535, according to the EPA.

Other tips for using insect repellents safely and effectively:

1. Apply repellents sparingly, and only to exposed skin or clothing.
2. Don’t apply repellents over cuts, wounds, irritated skin, or after shaving.
3. When applying to your face, spray first on your hands, then rub in, avoiding your eyes and mouth.
4. Don’t let young children apply repellents themselves.
5. Don’t use near food, and wash hands after application and before eating.
6. At the end of the day, wash treated skin with soap and water, and wash treated clothing in a separate wash before wearing again.
 

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Hurricane Matthew could complicate efforts to control Zika by interrupting mosquito-control efforts and boosting numbers of the biting bugs that spread the virus, officials are warning.
hurricane, matthew, zika, mosquito
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2016-52-04
Tuesday, 04 October 2016 03:52 PM
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