© 2020 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Health Professionals: Containing The Zika Virus Is Critical

TPR archive

Experts in tropical medicine and infectious diseases say a Zika outbreak in San Antonio and South Texas could spread quickly. They say containing it would be critical and a specific plan of action would be needed. 

Anil Mangla is Assistant Director of the Communicable Diseases Division of San Antonio Metropolitan Health District.

"We’re going to have to identify the areas of local infections," he says. "We’re going to have to restrict blood donations from these areas. Identify residential households within the control zones and protect the identity of the targeted addresses."

Mangla says affected areas would be clustered. He says if a family member were to have Zika, the probability of others in a household getting it would be relatively high.

He says night-time spraying, isn’t going to work because mosquitoes that transmit Zika are active during the day. Instead Mangla urges the public to take personal responsibility and empty standing water from their yards where mosquitoes lay eggs. 

"From its egg stage to adult mosquitoes, it takes about 12 to 19 days. So many people will say, 'It rained yesterday—we’re going to get a massive crop of mosquitoes by Friday. That’s not true.' We don’t expect people to drain water every day. The whole idea is to disrupt the life cycle, so if you even do this every five days, you are still interrupting the stage from egg to adult mosquito," he says.

Mangla says mosquitoes breed in small dark pools of water so don’t overlook very small containers like bottle caps. He says one-third of the mosquitoes in San Antonio are Aedes Aegypti which are able to carry the Zika virus.

Mangla spoke as part of the Children's Hospital of San Antonio's AtoZika Conference, which the hospital recorded in a series of videos.