Mosquito season is under way, and Dallas County Health and Human Services is reminding residents to take precautions to avoid exposure to mosquitoes that can carry Zika, West Nile and the chikungunya viruses. The season usually lasts into October.
What You Can Do
Dallas County Health and Human Services recommends the 4Ds to protect against mosquitoes:
DEET All Day, Every Day: Whenever you’re outside, use insect repellents that contain DEET or other EPA-registered insect repellents and follow instructions.
Dress: Wear long, loose, and light-colored clothing outside. Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents.
Drain: Drain or treat all standing water in and around your home or workplace.
Dusk & Dawn: Limit outdoor activities during dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active. Stay and sleep in screened-in or air-conditioned rooms.
On the SMU Campus
SMU departments on campus can put in a non-billable work order or call 214-768-3494 if they see standing water.
“With recent and upcoming rains, as well as potential travel plans, we are reminding residents to use personal protection to avoid exposure to mosquitoes,” said Zachary Thompson, DCHHS director.
SMU Facility Services removes standing water during mosquito season as part of their rounds and routines. Departments on campus can put in
a non-billable work order if they see standing water.
Zika virus primarily is spread through bites from infected Aedes species mosquitoes. Sexual transmission of Zika virus is possible. Most who are infected show no symptoms or have mild symptoms lasting for several days to a week, including fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes). According to the CDC, Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects. There is not a vaccine for Zika virus, according to the CDC.
Because cases of transmission by sexual contact have been reported, the CDC also recommends safe sexual practices, including abstinence and the correct use of condoms.
Cases have been reported in the continental United States primarily among returning travelers, including in Dallas. For information about areas with Zika, visit this CDC page: https://www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/.
If you think you may have Zika symptoms, talk to a healthcare provider and prevent further mosquito bites during the first week of illness to avoid spreading the virus.
Travel advisory regarding Zika virus
Students, faculty and staff members who are traveling to Mexico, Central America, South America, the Caribbean, Cape Verde or the Pacific Islands are asked to be aware of travel notices from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding Zika virus. Visit www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/ for a map of affected areas.
The CDC advises travelers to these areas to take enhanced precautions against mosquito bites. In addition, according to the CDC, women who are pregnant should not travel to regions where Zika virus transmission is active. Women who are thinking about becoming pregnant are advised to talk with their healthcare provider before traveling.
About West Nile
Most people (70-80%) who become infected with West Nile virus do not develop any symptoms. About 1 in 5 people who are infected will develop a fever with other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. Most people with this type of West Nile virus disease recover completely, but fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months. Less than 1% of people who are infected will develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis.
The symptoms of can include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, seizures, or paralysis. Recovery from severe disease may take several weeks or months. Some of the neurologic effects may be permanent.
No vaccine or specific antiviral treatments for West Nile virus infection are available, according to the CDC.
Local cases of chikungunya have been detected in those returning from Caribbean countries where the virus is spreading, reports the CDC. Outbreaks have occurred in countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Indian, Pacific Ocean and islands in the Caribbean.
Chikungunya causes joint pain and difficulty walking in about 80 percent of the people who become infected. The symptoms typically last for a week or two. A few people, however, can take months or longer to recover.
There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat chikungunya virus, according to the CDC.
International Travel Registration
SMU also reminds graduate students, faculty and staff members who are planning to travel internationally for any SMU-sponsored purpose to register their itinerary no less than seven days before departure with SMU’s Office of Risk Management. All undergraduates traveling abroad should be registered through SMU Abroad.
Students and employees also are urged to register for the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security updates.