Health officials warn valley residents at risk for Zika virus - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Health officials warn valley residents at risk for Zika virus

(Source: WTVM) (Source: WTVM)
COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

With recent news reports about the ongoing Zika virus outbreaks in dozens of countries in the Caribbean and South and Central America, there is a warning that people in the Chattahoochee Valley may be at higher risk of being infected.

Nine people in Georgia have tested positive for the Zika virus. Georgia health officials say all of those cases are travel related, but they also say one of the types of mosquitoes known to carry and transmit the virus is found in the Columbus area.

They add that it's important to take steps to protect yourself.

"There are two mosquitoes known to transmit the virus and the Aegypti is the most worrisome because it only bites people and we know that it’s been located on the coast and also in the Columbus area," says Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health.

The Georgia State Health Department has launched an educational campaign called “Tip and Toss,” to remind people of the best ways to help keep mosquitoes at bay. 

"We're recommending to the public to do an assessment of their property to get rid of those containers that hold water and to tip and toss after every rain event or at least once a week to prevent those habitats for mosquitoes to lay eggs," says Dr. Chris Rustin, Director of Environmental Health for the Georgia Department of Public Health.

Health officials also say when you're outside this summer make sure to protect yourself with repellants that contain at least 20 to 30 percent Deet. The Zika virus can cause serious birth defects in babies.

For more information on Zika and ways to prevent the spread of the virus visit the Georgia Department of Public Health website at http://dph.georgia.gov/.

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