Battling Zika virus in Chatham County

By Michael Zelek

Pittsboro, NC – Thank you, Kathy, for reaching out to us for more information on the Zika virus. When it comes to emerging public health threats like Zika, we work closely with our partners at the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to coordinate our efforts.

Zika VirusIn response to your question about the mosquito that transmits Zika (the Aedes species), according to the NC DHHS, “While the primary mosquitos that carry Zika virus are not believed to be widespread in North Carolina, individuals are always encouraged, as a routine precaution, to take steps to prevent mosquito bites, such as: Wear insect repellent registered with the Environmental Protection Agency; wear long-sleeved shirts and pants; and, use air conditioning or make sure window and door screens are in place.”

Also, we would add that it is important to eliminate mosquito breeding areas, especially considering all of the rain we have had so far this year. Strategies to do so include: Empty, destroy, recycle or cover containers like tires, tin cans, buckets and bottles where mosquitoes can lay their eggs; change water in bird baths and pet bowls at least once a week; remove or empty dishes under potted plants; stock ponds and ditches with fish; and, remember to check your down spouts around your home for standing water and treat as necessary. This will help to protect you from a number of mosquito-borne issues including the more common North Carolina mosquito-borne illnesses of La Cross Encephalitis, West Nile Virus, and Eastern Equine Encephalitis.

Regarding travel: Due to increased reports of microcephaly, a serious birth defect that can affect brain development, and other poor outcomes in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant, the CDC’s current recommendations target those who live in or travel to areas with active virus transmission, particularly pregnant women and their partners. The CDC has issued travel notices specific to those locations: The CDC also provides updates and information on the Zika virus here.

Thank you again for requesting information about the Zika virus.

Mike Zelek, MPH is a Social Research Associate/PIO at the Chatham County Public Health Department