By Susan Bromley
Brandon Twp.- Warm weather is coming and while it brings many joys, it also brings tiny pests that can pose a big threat.
The Oakland County Health Division is urging residents to take protective measures against mosquito-borne diseases, including the Zika and West Nile viruses. Last year, West Nile Virus was confirmed in three Oakland County residents, including Mary Ann Quisenberry. The 81-year-old Ortonville mother and grandmother died from the illness Sept. 14, three weeks after she began exhibiting flu-like symptoms associated with the virus.
Zika virus has not yet been identified in Michigan, unlike West Nile, which has been present for years, but is expected to make its way here. The virus is transmitted through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito and mosquitoes become infected from biting infected persons and then continue to transmit the disease. Pregnant women are particularly in danger as the virus can be spread to the unborn baby, not only from the mother, but through sexual contact from her part- ner. Men who have traveled to a country with a Zika virus outbreak are encouraged to abstain from sex with a pregnant partner or use a condom to possibly avoid spreading infection. There is no vaccine or medicine to treat the Zika virus, which can result in birth defects.
Pregnant women are cautioned against traveling to any area where the Zika virus is currently transmitted, including South America.
The OCHD recommends the following tip to protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites: Use EPA-registered insect repellant; wear protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts and pants; avoid outdoor activities when mosquitoes are most active; avoid areas where mosquitoes may be present; maintain window and door screens to keep mosquitoes out; eliminate mosquito breeding sites by removing standing water around the home, including weekly emptying and scrubbing, turning over, covering, or throwing out items that hold water such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpots, roof gutters and trash containers.
The township receives an annual allocation for West Nile Virus prevention from Oakland County, with this year’s allocation nearly doubled to $5,644 due to concern about the Zika virus. However, due to storage concerns, the township will be accepting only $3,365.04 for purchase of mosquito control products including 15 cases of mosquito dunks larvicide, 20 cases of 1-ounce Cutter spray bottles; 10 cases of 6-ounce bottles of Cutter Skinsations spray; 10 cases of 4-ounce Repel lotion; 12 cases of 4-ounce Cutter lemon eucalyptus spray (DEET-free); and 10 cases of 15-count Repel mosquito wipes.
Each household in the township is entitled to a 6-ounce insect repellent and pack of dunk, and can also try some of the new products.
“It’s a popular program for people who take advantage of it,” said Supervisor Kathy Thurman. “Come in now and get what we have in stock and return when we get the new products. We want to make sure we don’t have anyone getting infected with mosquito-borne illnesses.”
For up-to-date information regarding CDC’s Zika virus travel restrictions, visit http://1.usa.gov/1Qq5Iow or For up-to-date information about pregnancy and Zika virus, visit http://1.usa.gov/1Pf79sK. For public health information, visit www.oakgov.com/health.