Six Ways To Protect Facilities From Mosquitoes, And The Zika Virus
As the weather heats up, summer brings new challenges to facilities because people want to spend more time outdoors, while expecting comfortable conditions indoors. That puts additional pressure on your cleaning staff to keep all areas comfortable and ready for use. One thing they shouldn’t forget in their summer cleaning rounds is mosquitoes.
With the recent rise of the Zika virus, mosquitoes have come to the forefront as a significant public health concern. In February 2017, public health officials met for a Zika Summit at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta where they confirmed the Zika virus still is a concern this year.
The Zika virus is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Called the “cockroach of mosquitoes” by the CDC, this species can live outdoors and indoors and can bite multiple victims during its lifetime. Unlike other mosquitoes that are active in the evening, Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are more active during daylight hours, making them an increased threat to people at your facility. In addition to the threats presented by the Zika virus, other mosquito species cause severe allergic reactions in sensitive people and transmit other diseases such as dengue, chikungunya and West Nile virus.
Despite the health threats that Zika poses and the concerns of our public health officials, a recent Gallup poll shows 90 percent of Americans don’t think they will contract the Zika virus. This means that they may not be as diligent in protecting themselves from mosquito bites as they should be.
In light of this, as a facility manager, you’ll need to do your part to protect your property, customers and staff from mosquitoes. In fact, at the CDC Zika Summit, public health officials said there is something everyone can do in preventing the spread of mosquitoes and the Zika virus.
To protect your property from mosquitoes, it’s important to first identify weak points that attract them or provide breeding grounds. Here are a few things that facility managers and cleaning staff can do to help reduce mosquito populations:
• Eliminate sources of standing water. Mosquitoes only need a few inches of stagnant water to breed, so get the water flowing by cleaning out blocked gutters and pouring out any water that might be sitting in buckets or containers every 3 to 5 days.
• Make sure water is circulating in fountains, ponds and swimming pools. Frequently refresh the water in bird baths or pet bowls.
• Thin out and trim vegetation, as tall grasses and unkempt landscaping can attract mosquitoes.
• Install door and window screens to prevent mosquitoes from getting inside.
• Close gaps in windows, walls, doors and screens to eliminate entry points.
• Keep doors closed as often as possible and install air curtains to create a positive air flow that blows mosquitoes out the door when they try to fly inside.
These are some things you can do on your own, but if the task becomes too big, a pest management professional can help create an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategy that is an environmentally responsible and business savvy solution to pest control. IPM may or may not include chemical treatments and typically implements exclusion, sanitation and maintenance techniques that are customized to your property and monitors results. Mosquito season usually runs much of the year – from April to October – so preparing now will help you get your facility ready to fight this dangerous pest.
Mark Beavers, Ph.D., is Managing Director of Technical Services for Orkin. He is a global public health and pest management specialist with more than 29 years of service as an active duty U.S. Navy entomologist. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.orkincommercial.com.