The Bayonet

Wednesday, Oct. 05, 2016

Zika Toolkit provides information, preventative tips

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The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has released a Zika Toolkit for the public to learn about the virus and how to protect themselves against it.

Maj. Scott Robinson, the Chief of Preventive Medicine at the Martin Army Community Hospital, encourages people to visit the CDC site to gain more information about Zika.

"The CDC has the Zika toolkit so people can go to that for additional information and it has information for public health officials and up-to-date information for the average person."

"We do have some mosquitos here that can carry Zika," said Robinson. "We did mosquito surveillance on post this past summer and one of the things we were doing with surveillance is identifying the species of all the mosquitoes."

The Zika virus is carried by the Aedes species of mosquitoes.

"We know there are a few Aedes. In most areas we have supervised it's about two percent. In general (Aedes) has not been a major component of the mosquito population," Robinson said.

While Fort Benning may not have a large Aedes mosquito population, individuals are encouraged to take precautions when traveling to Zika-infected areas.

There are certain areas like Florida, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico that have Zika, Robinson said.

"We have reached out to the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation population, as our primary South American population."

Robinson explained that individuals traveling to Puerto Rico need to understand that it is an active transmission zone for Zika.

Individuals are advised to wear insect repellant that contains DEET and to wear permethrin-treated clothing and gear if they are traveling to active transmission zones.

"They need to know that they can-even if they don't feel ill-transmit Zika. They can travel to those areas, not feel like they've gotten sick and still be a person who is capable of sexually transmitting Zika to others for at least six months," Robinson added.

"Is (an outbreak) possible, yes. Is it likely, probably not because the mosquito population mix is not entirely conducive to it," Robinson said. "I wouldn't regard Fort Benning as being high risk despite the significant number of people who travel to and from Zika infected countries."

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