The Loudoun Health Department is ready to roll out a Zika virus response as mosquito season approaches, bringing with it the prospect of infection in Northern Virginia.
County supervisors on Tuesday, May 3, unanimously approved a plan that allows the county staff to spend up to $100,000 in emergency responses to Zika outbreaks.
Zika virus is difficult to tackle head-on. The mosquito that carries the virus can’t be fought by wide-area fogging, such as can be used against other species of mosquito. And unlike other big Northern Virginia jurisdictions, Loudoun doesn’t have its own mosquito control district; before the Zika response plan, the county had only limited power to fight mosquito breeding grounds through its nuisance ordinance. In incorporated towns, the county doesn’t even have that authority.
With the new response plan, the county hopes to prevent any Zika outbreaks this summer from spreading.
“This is just so that if, in the event there was somebody with Zika in our county, that we
wanted to prevent that person from infecting the local mosquito population,” Health Department Director Dr. David Goodfriend said.
The virus is spread by mosquitos that have bitten an infected human. In the case of an infected person during mosquito season, the county can now contract with pest control companies to kill mosquitoes and mosquito larvae in standing water around that person’s home.
Loudoun’s Zika response plan also includes community outreach and education and laboratory testing for pregnant women and their partners. Although Zika is usually a minor illness, and many people who are infected may never know it, the virus has been shown to cause birth defects if a woman contracts the disease while pregnant. It has also been linked in rare cases with Guillan-Barré syndrome, a potentially fatal nerve problem.
For more information, go to Loudoun.gov/zika.