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'Tip & Toss' To Eliminate Zika Virus Infected Mosquitoes

U.S. Department of Agriculture
WIkimedia Commons

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article has been updated to include the correct Food and Drug Administration guideline for mosquito repellant usage.

Summer is right around the corner, and along with the heat and rain will come more mosquitoes — mosquitoes possibly carrying the Zika virus.

Those infected with the virus recover quickly, but in pregnant women, Zika has been linked to a catastrophic head deformity in newborns called microcephaly as well as to neurological disorders like Guillain-Barre syndrome.

Chris Ruskin, director of environmental health in Georgia, said Tuesday mosquitoes that transmit the Zika virus are serial biters and unlike other mosquitoes that come out at dusk and dawn, these are active during the day.  

To minimize the risk of getting bitten, he said, you have to get rid of the places where these mosquitoes breed.

“The one thing that’s unique about these mosquitoes is that they do lay eggs in containers around your home and they don’t fly very far; they stay pretty close to your home," he said. "So if you can eliminate the habitat for them to lay eggs, you can eliminate — or at least reduce — the number of mosquitoes that may be biting you.”

Ruskin is promoting a new mosquito eradication campaign called "Tip & Toss."  It starts by looking around your yard and cleaning out places where water collects.

“In addition, tip and toss after every rain event or at least once a week to prevent those items from holding water and serving as a habitat for these mosquitoes to lay eggs,” he said.

The Food and Drug Administration suggests using a mosquito-repellent that contains DEET for anyone ages 2 months and older. A plant-based insect repellent called oil of lemon eucalyptus is recommended for those who are sensitive to chemicals in traditional repellents, ages 3 and older.  

There have been 273 confirmed cases of Zika disease in the U.S., 75 of them in Florida.

Cyd Hoskinson began working at WJCT on Valentine’s Day 2011.