State officials say they have a handle on Zika virus

08/17/2016 06:42 PM

FRANKFORT – Kentucky Department of Public Health officials have reported that, as of August 5, there have been 18 confirmed cases of the Zika virus in the state, and all were related to travel with no evidence of local transmission within Kentucky.

Zika, which is a viral infection primarily spread by the bite of a mosquito, as mild symptoms which include rash, fever, joint pain, and red eye.

Eighty percent of those infected experience no symptoms at all and specific laboratory testing is required to diagnose the illness.

The greatest risk from Zika is to pregnant women or women who became pregnant while infected. Zika is known to cause birth defects.

Kentucky has implemented a number of educational procedures to inform the public of what they can do to lessen the risk of contacting the illness which include took kits for local health departments which explain the what, where, how and why of Zika, information for patients and the public, and information on the importance of mosquito mitigation and methods for preventing mosquito bites.

Dr. Ardis Hovan, medical consultant with the Department of Public Health told members of the Interim Joint Committee on Health and Welfare on Wednesday that educating the public is the key.

“We have been very vocal in articulating the risk for individuals who could get Zika, should they be pregnant or become pregnant while traveling to an area where the disease transmission is occurring,” Hovan said. “Tomorrow, I will, in fact, be at the state fair, along with many of my colleagues, talking about Zika again and trying to educate the public as well.”

In conjunction with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, Public Health Protection and Safety sponsored 2 public health pesticide operator training courses and exams for local health departments environmental health staff.

The courses provided the state with an additional 50 licensed and certified pesticide operators to apply larvicide and adulticide as part of mosquito prevention and control efforts.

David Wayne, environmental services director with the Department of Agriculture, says that his agency has also been active on a number of other fronts.

“If there is Zika transmission within the state, or a request comes in and the number is too much for us at the KDA to control, we will actually allow the Kentucky Department of Public Health to utilize some of our equipment,” Wayne said. “Now that they have licensed and trained to apply mosquito control products, they can use our equipment to better control mosquitoes, or reduce the risk of Zika transmission across the state.”

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture has 8 employees assigned across the state to coordinate mosquito control programs.

On average, 100,000 acres across the state are treated annually.


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