Home Hays County Bite Back campaign aims to spread Zika virus awareness in Central Texas

Bite Back campaign aims to spread Zika virus awareness in Central Texas

Bug spray being used to keep away mosquitoes potentially carrying Zika virus.
Photo by: Ezra Sanchez |Staff Photographer
Bug spray being used to keep away mosquitoes potentially carrying Zika virus.

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.


  1. The Blood Center of Central Texas has more issues than they know what to do with. I objected to their CEO, to the fact that they continue to discriminate against every man who has had sex with another man (even teenagers), since the mid 1970s, and got told snottily “give blood for those who can’t”. I told them when that bigoted policy no longer offends me, I’ll be glad to give blood. Or maybe not, they make me so heartily sick to my stomach! I’m not looking forward to walking in and dealing with those people!

    I’m a 59 year old female virgin who has never been out of the country, been a prostitute, used illegal drugs, or been in jail. The Blood and Tissue Center would have far more blood if they stopped letting issues get in the way of doing their jobs. They need to realize what policies like this are costing them.

    They claim it will actually take two years to retrain their people on the subject, and having dealt with their people over the years, I can sadly see what would take that long! With most employers, here’s the policy, obey it or walk. I’ve dealt with people there I wonder if they are constitutionally capable of such a thing, hence part of my lack of eagerness to walk in there and deal with them. There will be disgusting arguments with those people no longer how long it’s been since they could ask ignorant questions.

    And, excuse me, many people from around the world, especially Latin America, live here… how are they figuring they don’t need to test the blood for Zika?!!! Those idiots literally think bigotry is a substitute for medical science!

    I really don’t know if I’m EVER going to give blood there again, or not.

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