Unofficial start of summer leads to warnings about mosquitoes, Zika virus

Health officials distribute pamphlets on the risks posed by mosquitoes and how to protect yourself.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – With Memorial Day, the unofficial start of the summer, approaching, Wake County health officials are warning the public about mosquitoes and the Zika virus.

Experts say that people should take precautions but that they shouldn’t be overly worried about Zika in this area.

Right now there are no known cases of mosquito-transmitted Zika virus in the United States and an N.C. State epidemiologist says our lifestyles help keep us safe.

“We stay inside a lot,” said Dr. Michael Reiskind, an epidemiologist at NC State. “We have air conditioning. We have windows with good screens and are sealed.”

zikasmallgraphicStill, officials are reminding people to use repellents to ward off mosquitoes and other pests.

“This particular mosquito we’re concerned about carrying the Zika virus is your backyard variety,” said Dr. Sue Lynn Ledford, Wake County public health director. “They live around homes. They feed during the day.”

If you are traveling to Central America, South America or the Caribbean, you should take extra care to avoid being bitten, Dr. Reiskind said.

Dot Keyser is concerned about her granddaughter who is traveling to South America this summer. “She’s going to live over there with a family – some kind of school exchange,” she said. “I’m worried about the Zika virus because it’s all around there. It’s not right in Chile but it’s all around Chile.”

Dot and her friends, who were outside enjoying lunch in Raleigh’s Oakview Park, said they’re not that worried about mosquitoes.

“They won’t bite us old girls,” one woman said with a laugh. “No, we’re too tough. They don’t want us.”

But Wake County health officials aren’t laughing about it. That’s why they’ve printed up pamphlets telling people what they need to do to protect themselves not only from mosquitoes but from ticks, which also transmits troublesome viruses and diseases.

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