Mosquito conference held in Savannah discussing the Zika virus - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Mosquito conference held in Savannah discussing the Zika virus

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)

While there have been no confirmed cases of transmission of the Zika virus via mosquitos in the United States, the potential has mosquito control experts taking a closer look at preventative steps.

The Zika virus is on the seminar agenda at the American Mosquito Control Association conference, being held in Savannah this week.

When the schedule of events was determined for this year’s conference, the Zika virus was virtually non-existent in the headlines. But it's become a much bigger deal as of late, so there's actually a seminar on Monday and later this week, specifically addressing the Zika virus.

The type of mosquito that spreads the Zika virus, the Aedes aegypti, is found in the southeastern United States, including in Coastal Georgia. But this is a type of mosquito that mosquito control experts already know a lot about, including how to keep their numbers in check.

"The Chatham County Mosquito Control District, which is one of the premier mosquito control districts in the United States. They're really well run, know how to address this particular mosquito and it really involves public involvement, of trying to get rid of the containers that breed this kind of mosquito. It likes to breed around people, and it likes to feed on people, which makes it particularly dangerous,” said AMCA Technical Advisor Joseph Conlon.

The Center for Disease Control says for the average American, the Zika virus will not change day-to-day life, adding their focus now is to protect pregnant women from the virus and control the population of the mosquito known to carry the virus.

The Zika virus is definitely an area of interest at this year’s annual meet up, but mosquito control experts say by no means do they want to over-hype the virus.

"As scientists we are in pursuit of the truth. We want to give people the truth. And right now the truth is, there is a lot to be learned about this particular virus and how it is spread. We don't know all the answers to it, but we are trying to find out. And this money the president has graciously asked for will go a long way towards doing that,” said Conlon.

Joseph Conlon is a retired US Navy entomologist with extensive worldwide experience in mosquito control over a 25 year career. What Conlon is referencing is the announcement from the White House that President Obama is requesting from Congress $1.8 billion in emergency funding to help stop the spread of the Zika virus.

But Conlon says there are things you can do to keep from becoming a target of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which spreads the virus.

"Anything that can collect water out in your backyard, is prime real estate for this to set up shop. If you bring flowers into your house, and you put a bowl under the flowers to catch the excess water, they love to breed in that excess water too,” said Conlon. "Dress properly. And for that I mean keep your arms covered, keep your legs covered and wear loose fitting clothing. Make sure it's loose fitting, because they can and will bite through tightfitting clothing. And if you are going to wear tight fitting clothing, make it a real tight weave. And number three, utilize repellents. And the repellents you need to utilize are the EPA-registered repellents."

There have been no confirmed cases of the Zika virus being transmitted through mosquito bite in the United States. Any confirmed cases in the U.S. have been through people who have traveled abroad in countries where the virus is found.

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