Health dept. addresses local residents' concerns about Zika viru - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Health dept. addresses local residents' concerns about Zika virus

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It won't be long before mosquitos will be out in full force again, raising concerns for some local residents about the spread of the Zika Virus.

The CDC says there are now 82 travel-associated cases reported in the U.S.

"No parent wants to have the saddening, heartbreaking news of seeing a baby that's born with a very, very small head, totally deformed, when it can be avoided," said Chattanooga resident Jewell Cousin, whose concerns about the Zika Virus are growing.

Cousin's Chattanooga home is near the Chickamauga Creek, where mosquitos are rampant in warm weather.

"I can see them during the day, in the afternoon, especially," said Cousin, who has lived in her North Brainerd neighborhood for 44 years.

"The mosquitos were bad, very bad," she remembered, "and then after a while, we didn't have that problem because they started spraying."

The Hamilton County Health Department handled mosquito control for 23 years, but that service stopped after the county cut nearly $1 million from the Health Department's budget in 2011.

"The blanket spray is not the most effective way to control mosquitos," said Bonnie Deakins, Director of Environmental Health.

The Health Department's old mosquito control program would only spray at night. But officials explain the mosquitos that carry the Zika virus are daytime-biters.

Health officials advise concerned residents to take extra steps to wear protective clothing and to keep their homes' doors and windows closed.

"We have been hearing from folks that there's some fear out there, and we want to stress to everyone, don't panic, just take some precautions," Deakins said.

For more information and resources on the Zika virus, click here.

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