Town Council Chairman John Farrell called for the Town to investigate the costs associated with a town-wide spray program as the number of confirmed cases of the Zika virus among U.S. travelers continues to rise.
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been 82 travel-associated Zika virus cases reported in the U.S. as of Feb. 17; and on Feb. 22, the Washington State Department of Health confirmed a Mason County man in his 20s, who had recently traveled to the South Pacific, tested positive for Zika.
“In understanding there’s a lot we don’t know and that it can spread from person to person and from mosquito bites, I would like to see if we can understand the costs of a town-wide spraying program and work with the State to see if they have a plan by our March 7 meeting,” Farrell said.
While the Zika virus is not considered life-threatening, it has been linked to birth defects if contracted by pregnant women.
On Jan. 29, Gov. Maggie Hassan announced she and public health and emergency management officials in New Hampshire are taking steps to prepare for the Zika virus, working with the CDC to enhance the State Public Health Laboratories’ testing capabilities, protocols and certifications for Zika and coordinating with medical providers and infectious disease clinicians across the State.
Additionally, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has launched a Zika website for public access to resources and information about the virus.
Because there aren’t any treatments or vaccines for Zika, prevention efforts are focused on preventing mosquito bites – avoiding travel to affected areas, using repellents containing DEET, and wearing long sleeves and pants, according to the DHHS.
There have been three proven cases where the Zika virus passed through sexual contact.
Approximately 80 percent of people who are infected with the Zika virus do not develop symptoms. In those who do become ill, the disease is usually mild and lasts from several days to a week. The symptoms of Zika virus infection include fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes).
“We encourage people to be aware of the travel advisories issued by the CDC and consult their healthcare providers before and after any travel to affected tropical areas, especially if the person traveling is pregnant or attempting to become pregnant,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan said in a press release. “There is no risk of contracting the Zika virus in New Hampshire and we will continue to monitor the situation nationally and globally in order to keep residents and healthcare providers informed.”
Farrell said “Londonderry has always done a great job of leading rather than following,” and he “would like to see if we can understand the steps to take now before the winter ends.”
“I’m looking to get out in front of this and lead in New Hampshire on behalf of the residents of Londonderry,” he said.
In addition to gathering information about the cost of town-wide spraying, Farrell asked the Town to make information about the Zika virus available on the Town’s website.
To visit the State’s Zika website, go to www.dhhs. nh.gov/dphs/cdcs/zika/index.htm.