Health department pushing to educate public on Zika

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — So far, there are 27 cases of people infected with the Zika virus in Virginia. All the confirmed cases come from people who traveled abroad.

The Asian tiger mosquito, which carries the virus, can be found in the state, but health officials say that mosquito would have to bite someone infected and then bite someone else before it could spread locally. Still, officials aren’t taking the threat lightly.

“We’re taking Zika very seriously,” said Diane Woolard with the Virginia Department of Health.

Woolard, an epidemiologist, says there’s still a lot unknown about the disease.

“There’s a lot to learn, it’s a very complex infection,” Woolard told 8News Reporter Mark Tenia.

The department is pushing to educate the public, launching a Zika website. Meanwhile, health districts across the state are handing out door hangers filled with information.


“Homeowners are key in the fight against Zika virus,” said Matt Lipani with the department.

Lipani says despite what people may think, Asian tiger mosquitoes aren’t typical.

“These mosquitoes do not breed in bodies of water such as ponds, swamps, or lakes,” he explained. “They are container breeders.”

That means they hang out in containers filled with water, like trash cans, flower pots, old tires and anything else that can hold water.

“Look around your vicinity, regularly dump all your containers,” Woolard said.

And officials warn against leaving the job up to pest control companies.

“Some of the mosquito control services are going to be controlling different species of mosquito than the mosquito that causes this infection,” Woolard said.

She says most of the preparation involved in protecting the public will come from homeowners themselves.

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