by William B. Wiener, Jr.
For all inhabitants of Shreveport, the City Council, and Mayor Tyler, the issues of the Zika virus will reach critical mass if we fail to understand the potential dangers and begin to address them properly. We must remember that in 1873 Shreveport was devastated by the Yellow Fever epidemic which killed one-fourth of Shreveport’s population.
Yellow fever is initially spread by mosquitoes, then human to human, and Yellow Fever is active today and potentially spreadingworldwide. The Zika virus is potentially far more dangerous, and has already spread to the United States.
Zika is becoming a worldwide pandemic and will be coming to Shreveport. One of the issues is that citizens know very little about Zika before it is on Shreveport’s doorstep. The Zika virus is already contemplated in Dallas! What can we do to lessen the potential effects of Zika? This is where education starts and speculation stops.
Spreading by Mosquitoes
Mosquitoes breed in standing water, and mosquitos are the initial source of the Zika virus in the general population. Reducing standing water will reduce the breeding of mosquitos and all diseases they spread. Mosquitos require very little water to breed.
Shreveport has many paved ditches with small pockets of standing water that allow for mosqioto breeding. The city can address eliminating these wet areas, regardless of how small the pockets of standing water are. Home owners should try to eliminate all standing water, whether it is in a bowl, water your pets drink, or standing water anywhere under your control. Area of the city that must be addressed can be something like an old hub cap, a cup that accumulates water, a piece of yard art or any vessel in your yard or nearby. Landscape water features such as ponds or fountains must also be addressed. Swimming pools that are not properly treated become mosquito breeding grounds.
Spreading by Humans
Unfortunately Zika spreads between humans through sexual contact, and this is not only speculation. The details are available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In order to reduce person-to-person transmission of the Zika virus, condoms are necessary in the same manner combatting other sexually transmitted diseases are prevented. In every neighborhood in the city, Zika can and may soon be a serious disease issue. A start in educating the public should be to utilize the media, churches and schools to make sure all citizens understand the dangers and how steps can be taken to combat transmission of the disease. Making condoms available at public facilities including churches and schools would be a constructive step.
“If we are not too early in addressing a problem, then we are too late.”