On February 1, 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Zika virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. This is due to the ongoing Zika virus outbreak occurring in several countries in Central and South America. The Zika virus is primarily spread through the bite of an Aedes mosquito, and in York County, this would be the Asian Tiger Mosquito. The severity of the disease can vary from no symptoms or mild symptoms to birth defects in a child whose mother was infected with the virus during gestation. In February 2016, Governor Terry McAuliffe created a state Zika task force comprised of local mosquito control experts and health department officials to combat the virus in Virginia. To help combat the spread of the virus, York County Mosquito Control is actively involved in:
- Increased public outreach and education: Staff is conducting door-to-door neighborhood canvassing events to distribute educational materials and to assist our citizens with locating and eliminating breeding sites. We are utilizing our website, social media outlets, the County’s quarterly newsletter “Citizen News,” and our email subscription system to share information as well as to post regular updates on Zika. Mosquito Control staff is participating in various public events, such as Yorktown Market Days and is available to speak to neighborhood homeowner groups upon request.
- Surveillance: This year, we began mosquito surveillance operations in March - two months earlier than in a normal year. We have expanded our surveillance program to include more staff and more trapping sites per night and are focusing our surveillance efforts in areas where the Asian Tiger mosquito populations are at their highest. We will continue to monitor the potential vectors using various mosquito traps and larval surveys to better target our mosquito control efforts.
- Control: The best time to control this mosquito is when it is in the larval form, which is before it becomes a flying adult. To achieve this, we need to remove the standing water or treat it with a biological larvicide. Our program has been expanded to include treatment of the vacuum sewer system and all storm drain systems within residential neighborhoods. We project that four times more larvicide will be distributed throughout the county this year than in previous years. Larvicide deployment began April 1 and is currently ongoing.
A favorite breeding site of the Asian tiger is old tires. To combat this, we will conduct our 3rd Annual Tire Amnesty drive in June where we will accept up to five tires from our residents free of charge. In addition, we plan to inspect and treat junkyards and industrial areas to eliminate the mosquito breeding grounds. Inspections of citizens’ homes will be conducted per request. When adult control is needed, ULV fogging of individual yards or hotspots will be conducted. Truck sprays will be used as needed and only if they will be deemed effective.