Eddy County warned of ongoing Zika threat – Carlsbad Current-Argus

Eddy County warned of ongoing Zika threat – Carlsbad Current-Argus

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DeJanay Booth, Carlsbad Current-Argus
Published 6:05 p.m. MT Aug. 11, 2017

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Two counties — Otero and Hidalgo — were recently added to the list of counties where Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, mosquitoes capable of carrying the Zika Virus, are found.

Within the last year, only one county — Curry — was removed from the list; however Eddy County remained.

According to the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH), Aedes aegypti was identified in several southern New Mexico counties — Doña Ana, Eddy, Chaves, Sierra, Lea, Luna, Otero and Hidalgo. Aedes albopictus was identified in Roosevelt County.

“While we have been fortunate to this point that we have not had local mosquito-borne transmission of Zika Virus in New Mexico, tracking the areas at risk for Zika allows us to prepare and educate New Mexicans about prevention based on where they live,” said state Department of Health Cabinet Secretary Lynn Gallagher, in a news release.

More: 8 NM counties have Zika-transmitting mosquitoes

Eddy County vector control supervisor Kelly Cox said he is concerned that Eddy County has remained on the list of counties to have the Zika-transmitting mosquitoes. 

He said the county will likely stay on the list in the foreseeable future. 

“The whole southern half (of New Mexico) is going to have to deal with the mosquitoes,” he said.

The first reported New Mexican infection was in March 2016 when a man in Bernalillo County tested positive for the virus, according to NMDOH.

By the end of the year, a total of 10 cases were reported in New Mexico, and each person was traveling out of the country when they were infected. 

More: NMSU professors expand project to map Zika mosquitoes across southern New Mexico

David Morgan, spokesman for state Department of Health, said “it’s only a matter of time” before the Zika-transmitting mosquitoes migrate to northern New Mexico.

Morgan said “mosquito season,” when the insect is most active, typically lasts until October.

“Anything is possible at this point,” he said.

Morgan said NMDOH contracted New Mexico State University to travel around the state and trap and observe mosquitoes.

More: Brazil risks new Zika outbreak 3 months after end of health emergency

The university’s contract with the department expanded from last summer’s project.

Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus are different, Morgan said, as they are black with white stripes, compared to the typical brown mosquitoes, which can carry the virus.

“Look at the mosquito, if you can, to be able to know the difference,” he said.

Eddy County vector control fights back

As the monsoon season arrives, Cox said the efforts to prevent the spread of Zika will continue aggressively. 

He said although county workers are on a four-day week, vector control is working every day, sometimes starting their day at about 5 a.m.

Researchers at NMSU are tracking the adult mosquitoes in Eddy County to determine the exact population, Cox said.

More: Zika hits home: One American mom’s saga

“It’s a perfect time for them to do this project because of the recent rains we’re getting,” he said.

Cox said items such as containers and tire piles are working against them because they can hold a large amount of standing water.

He said, new this year, NMDOH will assist the county if any infections are reported.

“It feels good that we have the Department of Health to help us if we have any kind of Zika event,” he said.

DeJanay Booth can be reached at 575-628-5546, dbooth@currentargus.com and @DeJanayBooth on Twitter.

Tips against attracting Zika-transmitting mosquitoes

Source: New Mexico State University

  1. Remove standing water around the home. Clear old tires, plastic buckets and toys left outside.
  2. Do not over water the lawn or flowers. Water in the morning rather than the evening.
  3. Use mosquito repellent that contains DEET. Use natural repellent if allergic to DEET.
  4. Plants such as eucalyptus and lavendar can repel mosquitoes. Basil and catnip produce oil, which can be used in sprays to repel mosquitoes.
  5. Essential oils such as citrus, lemon eucalyptus, cedar, garlic and citronella can help control mosquitoes
  6. Prevention products for lawns and water contain natural bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis are toxic to mosquitoes, and harmless to animals and pets.
  7. Wear light-colored, loose fitting clothes as mosquitoes are attracted to heat.
  8. Set mosquito traps such as CO2 traps.
  9. Stock up on chemical products designed for mosquito control.

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