With the threat of the Zika virus in Louisiana, Minden city officials could soon be taking extra precautions by beginning the mosquito-spraying season early.
Winky Newer, with the City of Minden, says depending on the weather, they may begin spraying earlier than their normal start date in March.
“We’ve talked about it, and I know it’s supposed to be warm this week,” he said. “If it stays warm, we may expedite it. Over the years, mosquitoes change and the same chemical doesn’t work every year. But we’ve taken care of that with the chemicals we’ve ordered this year.”
The city sprays inside the corporate limits from March until about mid-September, or later if needed, he said.
Teddy Holloway, Webster Parish Police Jury public works director, says they usually start spraying in May and run through November when incidences of the West Nile virus are at their peak.
However, the parish is expected to remain on schedule with their spraying season.
“As of right now, we have no plans of starting any earlier than we did last year, but no one has talked to me about starting early,” he said.
He says they started early last year because of the extraordinary amounts of rainfall. While they started early, they stopped a little early too, he says, about October.
The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals recently announced two people from the state may have contracted the virus.
“We do not believe that Zika will spread from these suspected cases,” DHH State Epidemiologist Dr. Raoult Ratard said. “Local transmission of Zika by mosquitoes is very unlikely given the weather and environmental conditions. The chances of getting Zika from a mosquito in Louisiana are very small.”
The Zika virus, officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say, is a virus spread through mosquito bites with the most common symptoms listed as fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes. People usually don’t get sick enough to be hospitalized and rarely die of the disease.
Statistics show that only one in five people infected with Zika will get sick. If they do, it is usually mild and symptoms typically begin within two to seven days after a bite from an infected mosquito.
The Zika virus, officials say, has made national news in that Zika has been linked to a serious birth defect of the brain, microcephaly, a condition where a baby’s head is smaller than expected compared to babies of the same sex and age.
It is usually transmitted through their bite, the Aedes mosquito, which also spread Chikungunya and dengue. It is also transmitted from a pregnant mother to her baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth.
For anyone who has been infected, CDC recommends getting plenty of rest, drinking plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration and take medication such as acetaminophen for fever and pain.
They do not recommend taking aspirin or non-steroid anti-inflammatory medications.
Zika is not native to the U.S., but those who visit countries where Zika is found could become infected.