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Coalition forms locally to combat Zika
Doctor encourages community to take precautions against mosquito-carried virus
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A local doctor is encouraging the community to take precautions against the Zika virus.

Dr. Larry Anderson, a Dawson County physician and president of the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians, held the first in a series of educational meetings on Thursday to discuss the virus that is most commonly transmitted by mosquito bites.

"An ounce or two of water is all they need," he said.

While there have been no reported cases in Dawson County, Anderson said the community needs to be ready and make provisions now as there is no vaccine to prevent or treat the Zika virus.

Cleaning out rain gutters more frequently, making sure birdbath and feeders are emptied regularly and dumping out pet water before refilling bowls are simple ways to keep mosquitos away at home.

"We have to be very aggressive because this lifecycle is very short," he said.

Insect repellents containing 20-30 percent DEET and wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks or using permethrin-treated clothing help eliminate mosquito bites, as does staying and sleeping in screened-in or air-conditioned rooms.

To date, there have been 17 confirmed travel-related cases of Zika virus in Georgia. There are no confirmed local mosquito-borne cases of Zika virus in Georgia, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health, which announced the state's first case of Zika being sexually transmitted on Friday.

The virus is transmitted primarily through the bite of infected Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes. Both species are found in Georgia.

After a survey of the county, Anderson said tires could be considered the community's biggest threat as far as attracting mosquitos.

"Tires are a prime breeding ground for mosquitos for multiple reasons. Tires are black and black attracts heat, absorbs heat and retains heat," he said.

Mosquitoes thrive in dark, sheltered, undisturbed areas.

"There's usually debris in the tires, so there's a food when we see tires laying around, there's going to be a very high probability there's going to be mosquitos. Getting rid of the tires is going to be a major problem," he said.

His interest in the local study developed during a recent trip to Puerto Rico where the first case of the virus was reported earlier this year.

Officials in San Juan took the threat seriously, he said, and immediately implemented measures to combat the virus.

Anderson said the local initiative could mirror that successful effort, which included used tire collection days, as well as community-wide clean-ups to rid the towns of debris where mosquitos live and breed.

Anderson charged those in attendance to go back to their respective community groups, organizations, places of business and homes and develop specific plans to be a part of the solution.

He wants to share those plans at the group's gathering that will be at 11:30 a.m. June 8 on the second floor of the Northside Dawson medical complex.

For more information, call (706) 265-1335.