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Zika comes to Lafayette County

After learning the first reported case of the Zika case in Lafayette County was confirmed by the Mississippi State Department of Health, some thought it was just a matter of time since surrounding counties have had a few cases confirmed recently as well.

But that’s now how Zika works, at least so far, in the United States. All confirmed cases of Zika in the U.S. were contracted while the infected person was out visiting another country, primarily in South America and the Caribbean islands.

Zika virus itself produces mild flu symptoms; however, it is most dangerous for unborn babies if the mother is infected early in the pregnancy. It can cause brain damage, hearing and vision loss and impaired growth.

The breed of mosquito that is spreading Zika — Aedes aegypti — has not been detected in Mississippi since the early 1990s.

In Oxford, our Board of Aldermen earlier this year, voted to allow mosquito spraying in local parks and public places during the day, for one hour, once every two week because the Aedes feeds during the day. The city also passed an ordinance that requires all developments with storm water detention structures to have a mosquito control plan and register with the city so the ponds can be tested for mosquito larva by the city’s emergency management coordinator Jimmy Allgood.

Protecting yourself by using mosquito repellant and staying informed about the virus is an individual’s best defense — other than not traveling to areas where the disease is rampant. We commend the city of Oxford’s leadership for taking steps to protects its citizens, not only from Zika but also from West Nile Virus.