The Blood and Tissue Center of Central Texas is partnering with ABC Home and Commercial Services to spread awareness and educate Texas residents about the threat posed by the Zika virus through the Bite Back campaign.
According to a report by MSNBC, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has posted new numbers concerning Zika cases in the United States stating as many as 279 pregnant women are infected.
“The mosquitos and the disease itself are certainly not going to go away,” said Les Stobart, director of marketing for ABC.
With media coverage about the virus dwindling down, the campaign aims to continue education on the virus and the precautions needed.
“Our goal is to get the word out and teach people here in Central Texas how to protect themselves from having mosquito transmission of the Zika virus,” said Shaina Novotny, director of community engagement for the Blood and Tissue Center of Central Texas.
The Blood Center is concerned by the virus because it could contaminate the blood supply, however it has taken precautions to ensure is a slim possibility. The first step was approaching ABC for a partnership.
“While we know blood and the blood supply we do not know mosquitos and they are experts in that,” Novotny said.
“The first step of the campaign was public awareness, which we tackled with various TV and radio spots and now as we move into the second phase we’re looking for speakers to talk at public events to further raise awareness and educate people,” Stobart said.
“Zika virus disease is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes),” according to the CDC website.
Stobart said the Aedes mosquito likes to breed in still standing water so one precaution is to remove any potential breeding grounds for the insect.
“It’s a little unfortunate, because there is nothing new to say, mosquitos have always been a threat,” Stobart said. “We are just trying to continue that awareness of mosquitos.”
Precautions people can take are the same as for any regular mosquitos such as wearing long sleeves, pants and using mosquito repellant that contains DEET (diethyltoluamide.)
The threat the virus poses to the blood supply has warranted preparations by the Blood center, first of which is barring any potential donors that have traveled anywhere the virus is prevalent.
A list of these countries can be found at their website.
In addition to screening, the Blood Center is able to test blood samples for the virus; however, this will not take place unless Central Texas is considered to be an area at risk
“We are encouraging people to donate as much as they can as finding donors in the summer can be difficult and we have seen a decline in donors due to our screening process,” Novotny said.