Butler County gets money to stop Zika, other diseases

The Butler County Health Department was one of several health departments around the state to get funding from Ohio EPA to be used for mosquito control. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
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The Butler County Health Department was one of several health departments around the state to get funding from Ohio EPA to be used for mosquito control. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

The Butler County Health Department will trap and test mosquitoes to prevent the spread of diseases with the assistance of grant money from the Ohio EPA.

Butler County was awarded $29,700 to trap mosquitoes and collect tires.

MORE: Experts weigh in on Zika virus threat level in Ohio

No confirmed cases of the Zika virus acquired locally have been reported so far this year in Butler County. However, Butler County had five cases of the Zika virus in 2016, according to Butler County Health Commissioner Jenny Bailer, adding all of the cases were “from people who had traveled to Zika areas.”

In Clark County, about a one-hour drive from Butler County, a confirmed case of the Zika virus was reported in May when a traveler returned home from a Zika hot spot. Neighbors were told to remove any items that could hold standing water from their lawn and to protect themselves with bug spray.

RELATED: Clark County Health District: Neighbors should take steps to stop Zika

Statewide, 95 Zika cases acquired outside Ohio during travel were confirmed last year. So far this year, three cases of the virus acquired outside Ohio during travel have been reported statewide. No cases have been found of the virus being transmitted by a mosquito in Ohio in 2016 or 2017 so far.

In Butler County, the money from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency will be used to determine if mosquitoes that carry the dangerous viruses are in the area.

“Targeted Butler County mosquito spraying locations and tire abatement activities will be determined throughout the (summer) season based on our mosquito surveillance data results,” Bailer said.

MORE: Zika vaccine being tested in U.S.

The county has used previous grant funds to place billboards reminding people to empty standing water on their property.

“The program will include surveillance, education and awareness, dunks for larval control, spraying for adult control, and abatement of tire dump sites,” Bailer said.

In addition to the county health department’s efforts, residents can also help eradicate mosquitoes on their property, she said.

Emptying standing water in buckets, flower pots or other areas around a home will immediately reduce the number of potential breeding sites where mosquitoes like to lay their eggs, according to Bailer.

“Individuals should wear insect repellent when outside, and pregnant women or those planning to become pregnant should check with their provider about Zika prevention steps,” she said.

PREVIOUS REPORT: Butler County schools enact mosquito control measures in face of Zika

Dr. Ginger Cameron, assistant professor of Pharmacy Science at Cedarville University, said that while Zika is not a significant threat to Ohio, she noted that mosquitoes can carry a host of diseases and it is best to take all precautions to avoid being bit by them.

“This includes simple measures like wearing mosquito repellent and removing all standing water from around your home. Remember that this mosquito is a day-time biter that is very lazy, so it won’t travel very far from its home,” she said.

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BUTLER COUNTY PLAN

Mosquito surveillance: Monitor mosquito activity around the county and send specimens collected to Ohio Department of Health for identification.

Larval control: Larval "dunks" will be distributed via township trustee offices t for property owners to use where mosquito breeding grounds exist.

Adult control: Contract with a local licensed pesticide company to spray in areas on county and township property that pose a significant risk to public health

Community Outreach:

  • Purchase plastic door hanging bags to leave educational materials on the doors of dwellings in areas of high risk and distribute materials via township trustee offices
  • Collaborate with community partner on tire abatements. Unused tires stored outside are frequently mosquito breeding grounds. Work through existing programs to assist in eliminating this.
  • Hire a summer intern to conduct mosquito surveillance activities and deliver educational materials throughout the county.

SOURCE: Butler County Health Department

TIPS TO STAY SAFE

  • When outdoors, wear Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered insect repellents. All EPA registered insect repellents have been evaluated for effectiveness and are safe to use during pregnancy. Always follow the product label instructions.
  • Make sure you have good screens on your windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.
  • Empty standing water from flower pots, buckets and barrels.
  • Change the water in pet dishes, and replace the water in bird baths weekly.
  • Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out. Keep children's wading pools empty and on their sides when they aren't being used.

SOURCE: Ohio Department of Health

BY THE NUMBERS

$29,700: Awarded to Butler County to trap mosquitoes and collect tires

95: Zika cases acquired outside Ohio during travel in 2016

3: Zika cases acquired outside Ohio during travel in 2017 so far

0: Zika cases acquired in Ohio by mosquito in 2016 and 2017 so far