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Zika Virus Update

It’s hard to turn on the TV or visit the internet lately without hearing about the Zika Virus and the related birth defects now affecting large areas of Brazil.  I’m writing a short piece to help clarify the issue and answer some questions you might have.  I hope it helps.  We’ll begin at the beginning:

The Zika Virus

Yellow fever mosquito, courtesy of Wikipedia

Zika is not a new virus, cialis it was actually first described in Central Africa in 1947 in monkeys.  The first case of Zika confirmed in a human was not until 1952.  The virus itself is from the family Flaviviridae and is closely related to the Yellow Fever, Dengue and Chikungunya viruses.  Although related to Yellow Fever and Dengue Fever, Zika is significantly less severe.  Zika Fever presents as a minor cold with mild fever, body aches, rash and occasionally conjunctivitis (pink eye).  In extremely rare cases some Zika patients develop an autoimmune condition called Guillain-Barré syndrome.  Direct fatality from Zika Fever has yet to be reported.  By comparison, Yellow Fever kills 30,000 people each year, globally.

Zika is identifiable in infected persons via a blood serum test.  At the current time, there is no vaccine to prevent the Zika virus nor is there an anti-viral treatment for those who have already been infected.  There is research for a vaccine underway and even reports of possible vaccines available from laboratories in India.  The widespread distribution of a viable and tested vaccine is at least a year away, and more realistically 2-3 years.

 

Image courtesy of www.cbsnews.com

Zika and Birth Defects

In 2016, the World Health Organization determined that the Zika virus was present in, and most likely responsible for, over 4000 cases of microcephaly in Brazil, a 2600% increase of that particular birth defect.  Babies born with microcephaly have abnormally small skulls and cranial capacity, usually resulting in severe mental retardation.  Zika has also been discovered in the amniotic fluid and brain tissue of miscarried fetuses, indicating the worst cases of Zika may compromise the pregnancy itself.  The Zika virus is passed from mother to unborn child via the placenta and umbilical cord where, scientists believe, it affects the development of the child, causing the defects described above.

 

Zika Transmission

The primary mechanism for transmission of the Zika virus is via female mosquitoes of the Aedes genus, notably the Yellow Fever Mosquito (Aedes aegyptii) and the Asian Tiger Mosquito (Aedes albopictus).  The female mosquito must first bite an infected primate, either human or monkey, then transfer the virus on its next feeding to an uninfected host.  Zika’s developmental and transmission cycle requires a viral reservoir of some kind as it does not remain persistent in the insect’s body for very long periods of time.  Before the recent outbreaks in Brazil (2015-16) and French Polynesia (2013-14), Zika was usually confined to arboreal monkeys and rarely spread to humans.  It is important to note that many viruses have “jumped” to other related species in the past, this method of primate to human transmission via mosquitoes is a rather standard occurrence in epidemiology, not a novel event.

courtesy of www.nature.com

There is now evidence that Zika can be spread sexually.  While the virus remains in the female body for a rather short amount of time (less than 2 weeks), it can persist in males much longer.  The virus has been shown to remain in the semen of infected males for up to 10 weeks after initial exposure.  There have been at least 3 cases of sexual transmission verified by the Centers for Disease Control since 2014.

There have been some studies to determine if the virus can be transmitted by direct blood transfusion but results have been slow in coming.  Considering sexual transmission is a reality, in all likelihood, further studies will reveal Zika can be passed through the blood, provided certain parameters are met (time, collection and processing methods, etc).  Once more, information is available, we will pass it on.

 

The Primary Vectors, Mosquitoes

Like many diseases, the Zika virus is spread primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito, in this case, mosquitoes of the Aedes genus.  As mentioned previously, the two most common Aedes mosquitoes of concern in the US are the Yellow Fever Mosquito and the Asian Tiger Mosquito.   There are many other kinds of Aedes mosquitoes but the YFM and ATM are most likely to encounter humans and spread disease due to their behavior.  Both mosquitoes are arboreal (tree-loving) or semi-arboreal in nature, feed during the daytime, and bite frequently as they obtain a complete blood meal from multiple hosts.

Aedes mosquitoes started out in tropical and subtropical zones but have quickly spread throughout the world as a result of global trade.  Aedes mosquitoes are known for utilizing small pools of temporary water as breeding points, making every untended and uncovered water container a potential breeding site.  Birdbaths, used tires, water buckets and tree holes are some of their favorite breeding grounds.  Entomologists believe the global spread of these mosquitoes is directly connected to used tire trade, transporting rain water-filled tires across and between continents, carrying mosquitoes and their larvae with them.

Controlling Aedes mosquitoes is a difficult task, especially in urban areas.  Often, the techniques used to manage native mosquitoes, such as draining/ditching, larvicide application to ponds and lakes and the use of biological controls like Mosquitofish  are not feasible in these types of areas.  Community-wide education programs tend to work best, provided the residents of the community are active and involved in the program.

Click here for some tips on how to manage mosquito populations.

 

image courtesy of the CDC

Protecting Yourself from the Virus

For most people in the Northeastern US, there is very little chance of catching the Zika Virus at this time.    Widespread transmission of the virus requires both a viral reservoir (a large group of infected primates) and a population of Aedes genus mosquitoes to affect transmission.  At this time, there is no viral reservoir in the United States. Additionally, our current climate is holding down mosquito populations, although as temperatures rise we will lose that advantage.

Male-to-female sexual transmission is the only way the virus can currently spread in the US, female-to-male sexual transmission has yet be verified.  Persons with the highest exposure for Zika are those traveling to and living in affected areas in Brazil, and females that have sex with males who have traveled to/from affected areas within the last 3 months.   Considering the layers of co-incidental factors, the vast majority of the US population is at virtually no risk. At the time of this article (2/26/16), approximately 50 cases have been described in the US.  Of those 50, the overwhelming majority had returned from a recent trip to Brazil.  There has been only one case of possible sexual transmission in the US since 2016 and that particular incidence is unconfirmed and still under review by the CDC.

(Update 4/6/16:  The number of cases in the US has increased to just over 300.  There is still no verifiable local transmission.)

Currently there is extremely little (almost zero) chance of the average US citizen to contract this virus.  Entomologists do expect Zika to spread slowly, as most diseases do, and ultimately end up in the US within the next decade or two (possibly more).  Since there is no resident lesser-primate (monkey/ape) population to utilize as a reservoir, there will be very little foothold for Zika in the US.  Since other Aedes based viruses like Yellow Fever and Dengue are almost non-existent in the US, one can expect Zika to share a similar fate.

 

Conspiracy Theory #1 Zika is being spread by genetically modified mosquitoes

This rumor first started in early January as the story broke in major media outlets without many facts and as such, speculation abounded.  In 2015 a British bio-engineering firm, Oxitec, released a genetically modified strain of Yellow Fever Mosquito into some areas of Brazil in an effort to control the spread of Dengue fever.  The genetically modified mosquitoes introduced then mate with the native population and the resultant eggs/larvae have been proven to not reach adulthood, thereby lowering YFM populations by 75%-90%.   The mosquitoes released are entirely male mosquitoes (remember- only adult females bite) and none of their offspring reach adulthood.  There is no connection between biting mosquitoes, much less Zika-transmitting mosquitoes, and genetically modified male mosquitoes.

Despite this evidence, there are some who insist on a Jurassic Park-like scenario despite the facts of the case and total absence of any link or correlation between Zika transmission and genetically modified male mosquitoes.

Read more about the Oxitec Solution here.

 

Conspiracy Theory #2: Widespread application of pesticides is the cause of the Microcephaly outbreak

In 2015 a group called the “Physicians in Crop-sprayed Towns in Argentina” released a declaration stating a link between the microcephaly outbreak and the application of the pesticide/insect growth regulator pyriproxyfen throughout Brazil.  The group further went on to implicate Monsanto as a culprit in this deliberate application of harmful chemicals to large populations in Brazil.   The report was roundly rejected by mainstream science based on its lack of scientific evidence, absence of cogent thought and several factual errors in the piece.  The group also states that native villages are the specific target of these applications, supposedly in an effort to depopulate those villages.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

First and foremost, pyriproxyfen (seen at right) has been in use for almost 30 years with an excellent safety record.  This particular pesticide works on chemicals found in the insect body that are simply not present in vertebrates, much less mammals.  Pyriproxyfen has been studied by the US EPA and approved for use as a pesticide and growth regulator for mosquito, flea, and tick control in the US.  The registration process for US-based pesticides includes approximately $100 million dollars worth of safety testing, including carcinogenic, tetragenic and mutagenic (cancer, birth-defect and genetic mutation, respectively) studies on non-target species.   To date, the US EPA has received no reports of pyriproxyfen affecting humans adversely when used properly.

While human exposure to pyriproxyfen is possible, if not probable, scientists estimate the average sized person must drink approximately 1000 liters of treated water every day to achieve a harmful level of this chemical in their system.

Additionally, in autopsies of babies and fetuses with microcephaly, there is no trace of pyriproxyfen in their systems, nervous tissues or the mother’s placenta/umbilicus.  None.  On the other hand, presence of the Zika virus has been confirmed in every case.

Also important to note, pyriproxyfen is not produced by Monsanto and their subsidiaries.  It is actually produced by the Japanese chemical company Sumitomo Chemical.  I’d also like to think there isn’t a global conspiracy to depopulate the Brazilian rain forests for unknown ends by persons unknown or known.

It is best to leave these conspiracy theories to their rightful place, in weekend television programming like The X-Files.  These “theories” and their derivatives should be given as much credence as the flat-earth, faked moon landing,  and Reptillian-alien conspiracies.

In Conclusion

The outbreak of microcephaly in Brazil is doubtless a tragedy affecting many thousands of Brazilians, thankfully cases of this rare birth defect have not spread beyond the geographic zones in which it originated. While the images of deformed babies are powerful and moving, they do not speak to the limited spread and very specific nature of the victims of this outbreak.

Although the Zika virus may be “new to us” it is certainly not new.  The virus is nowhere near epidemic proportions, let alone a global pandemic.  To compare, Zika is responsible for approximately 4000-5000 cases of microcephaly, versus the 20,000 deaths Dengue causes annually, of its approximately 50-500 million reported cases.   Zika may spread via multiple pathways as many viruses do but our incidence of exposure here in the US is almost absurdly low.

Certainly, this is an issue to be watched, studied and worked against and the scientific community is doing just that.  In the meantime, the average US citizen is more likely to be struck by lightning or be attacked by a shark than to contract Zika.  There are many more horrible diseases and parasites transmitted by insects and arthropods we must safeguard ourselves against.

This article is property of Ralph Citarella Jr. BCE and may not be reproduced, distributed or utilized without written permission from the author

Sources Cited:

5 Things You Need to Know About Zika. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2/24/16  http://blogs.cdc.gov/publichealthmatters/2016/02/5-things-you-really-need-to-know-about-zika/

Aedes.  Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 2/6/16 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aedes

Aedes aegypti Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  2/14/16  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aedes_aegypti

A shocking one-third of Americans believe this Zika conspiracy theory. The Washington Post 2/23/16 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/02/23/a-shocking-one-third-of-americans-believe-this-zika-conspiracy-theory/

Brazil, world health officials deny link between pesticide and microcephalyCNN.com 2/18/16 http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/17/health/brazil-who-pesticide-microcephaly-zika/

Declaration of the 3rd NATIONAL CONGRESS OF PHYSICIANS IN THE CROP -SPRAYED TOWNS(sic) 11/26/15 http://www.reduas.com.ar/declaration-of-the-3rd-national-congress-of-physicians-in-the-crop-sprayed-towns/#more-1541

Dengue fever. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 2/18/16 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dengue_fever

Experts debunk claim blaming larvicide, not Zika, for microcephaly- CBS News. 2/16/16   http://www.cbsnews.com/news/health-experts-dismiss-claims-larvicide-linked-to-microcephaly/

Free Resources on Aedes aegypti and Zika Virus Research- Entomology Today.  2/17/16 http://entomologytoday.org/2016/02/17/free-resources-on-aedes-aegypti-and-zika-virus-research/.

Mosquito Control Methods. National Pesticide Information Center website. 11/19/15 http://npic.orst.edu/pest/mosquito/control.html

Our solution, The Oxitec approachOxitec Corporate Website. 2014-2016  http://www.oxitec.com/health/our-solution/

Pyriproxyfen. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 2/24/16 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyriproxyfen

Transmission of Dengue Viruses. Nature Reviews: Microbiology. July 2007 http://www.nature.com/nrmicro/journal/v5/n7/fig_tab/nrmicro1690_F2.html

What you need to know about Zika virus- CBS News.  2/18/16 http://www.cbsnews.com/news/zika-virus-what-you-need-to-know/

Zika virus. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 2/23/16 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zika_virus

 

 

Help! My Dog Just Ate Rodent Poison!!



It’s a common question and we’ve heard it time and again, sale both with professional bait placements but more often with over the counter baits that are placed by homeowners.  Another question in a very similar vein is “What do I do if my dog (or cat) eats a poisoned mouse?” Lets take a look at the different ways our pets and other non-target animals come in contact with rodenticide.

The first and most common way in which a pet or other non-target animal will ingest pesticide is accidental bait consumption, or more accurately phrased, accidental bait placement.  Despite flavoring agents (like Bitrex) that manufacturers put into rodent baits to repel non-target animals and children, occasionally one of our pets will come into contact with and consume rodent bait.   A common approach to avoid this issue is with proper placement into areas that pets cannot access, like wall voids or areas of the structure that are off limits to pets.  It’s a good first start but cannot be relied upon as a standalone measure.  All too often a locked door is left open, allowing pets to move into an area they are not allowed into normally.  Rodents have also been known to take bait from one place and move it to another, less secure location, an activity known as “translocation”.

The Protecta Evo bait station by Bell Laboratories

A more secure bait placement would be to place the bait in a tamperproof bait station that is secured with a special key.  It is important to note that the bait is secured within the station, so that even if the station is moved or shaken about, the bait will remain inside the station.  Different stations will be different sizes and construction styles but are usually made of a hard plastic and a locking lid.  While using secure stations is the first step in safety, it is not a fail safe method. For instance, some dogs can chew through very hard plastic if given enough time, leading to bait exposure, as well as possible ingestion of plastic fragments.

Even if all of your baits are placed securely in stations or well away from pets, exposure is still a hazard, but this secondary exposure usually requires a pest rodent to act as a carrier or intermediary.  If a rodent consumes bait and is either killed by the bait or has undigested bait in its system, any animal that feeds upon the rodent will expose itself to the bait.  This is known in the industry as Secondary Poisoning.

It is very important to note that for the overwhelming majority of cases that a single exposure to rodenticide by a pet or other non-target will have very limited if any negative side effects.  The real secret to poison is in the dose, and very different doses are required to kill a 2 lb. rat and a 25lb dog, a bit of quick math will show us that the dog should need to eat about ten times as much bait as the rat to receive a lethal dose.

To enter the real danger zone, our pet needs to feed on an abundance of bait or bait stations, or consume multiple poisoned rodents over a relatively short amount of time.   The majority of rodenticides used in modern pest control are designed to limit the effects of accidental exposure and secondary poisoning.  One method is to use slow acting poisons that have a ready antidote to limit both initial exposure and offer a rescue option for any animal that over consumes.   Between the difference in animal sizes (rodent vs. pet), the multiple feeding requirements, proper placement and station use, the overwhelming majority of pets receiving accidental exposure will not even need the antidote to the toxin as there are several layers of precaution in place already.

To sum up, keeping your pets safe begins with the pet owner.  If placing baits yourself, make sure you’re using a proper station and not allowing your pet unfettered or unlimited access to it.  Make sure any company you hire is using proper baiting procedures whenever children or pets are present in a home.  Advise your Pest Control Operator as to your pet’s temperament and habits, if Fido chews up the kitchen floor, I’m guessing a plastic station isn’t going to slow him down much.

If your pet is exposed to pesticide or pesticide affected rodents, first and most importantly, remain calm!!  Try and find out as much about the exposure as you can: how many rodents or bait stations your pet may have come in contact with, what kind of bait is it and do you have a label, all very important questions that need to be answered.  Chewing on something like a bait station is a far cry from opening it and consuming al the bait inside.  Remember the size comparison; if you catch your pet mastiff playing with a dead mouse his exposure will be almost nothing even if he eats the whole mouse.

Lastly and most importantly, if you are reasonably sure your pet has consumed bait or a pesticide affected rodent, its best to go to the Veterinarian and play it safe.  The vet will have access to the proper antidote and will be able to support your pet through any exposure related health issues the animal may experience.   Sometimes the biggest issue in exposure isn’t even the chemical itself, rodents can carry many types of diseases or pathogens in and on their systems and plastic chunks from a partially consumed bait station can do more damage to your pet’s digestive system than even a moderate to large pesticide exposure.

Choosing the Best Pest Control Company For You

case ‘sans-serif’; mso-bidi-font-family: ‘Times New Roman’; mso-bidi-theme-font: minor-bidi;”>Nobody likes a pest problem. Whether it’s bugs or rodents that have been bothering you, if you’ve tried your hand at home remedies and none of them seem to be giving you the results you’re hoping for, it may be time to call in a professional. But choosing a pest control company isn’t an easy task. There are several factors to consider when selecting a company and with a little dedication and the right questions to ask you’ll find yourself pest free in no time at all.

 Products

Many companies now use what the industry calls Integrated Pest Management, or simply IPM, which is one of the most effective forms of pest management. It’s a series of tactics and services that are designed to reduce the risk to the environment and people around them. When looking for a pest control company, ask what kind of reduced risk pest control products they have that might benefit you. Also make sure that they have products with low impact applications, meaning that their use won’t detrimentally alter the environment that surrounds them. Don’t settle for a company that uses highly toxic methods or products to eliminate pests.

Integrated Pest Management is worth it!

 Methods

 Also question the companies you speak to about whether or not they use non-toxic pest control methods. This is especially important if you’re looking for pest control in your home where you may have children or animals. They should offer suggestions when it comes to sanitation and exclusion, meaning your house will be rid of any unwanted pest and barriers will be put up to prevent other unwanted pests from entering the premises. This will make sure your house is free of those pesky menaces now and in the future. Preventative measures will make a big difference in whether your pest control problem becomes a recurring one.

 Customer Service

 Of course, as with any business, customer service is always important. Are they able to get to your house or business in a timely manner? The longer you leave a pest problem, the more likely it is to get worse. What kind of warranty can they offer you? While pest control companies that specialize in integrated pest management may charge a bit more an effective warranty turns a “service” into a Pest Control Program. And most importantly, how do they treat you? As a firm believer that customer service is the most important aspect of any business, there’s no reason they can’t have good customer cooperation skills. See what Bayonne Exterminating offers our residential customers…

 The products, methods and service a company offers will be the biggest factors to consider when deciding which pest control company is best for your problem. Check out reviews online if you’re unsure about a company as its previous customers are a good indication of how the company will handle business with you as well. Don’t settle for the first pest control company you come upon. Compare reviews, service offerings and warranty structure when investigating companies, there’s a huge difference between “Price” and “Value”.

Our clients have learned about our value, see our reviews and testimonials here.

Confidentiality is Key in Pest Control

Just a brief note regarding professional ethics, view this subject touches me deeply.

It has come to our attention that a local pest control company has decided to expose its customer’s names and addresses in advertisements that are posted publicly.  I’ve posted a photo below (after removing any identifying information, recipe both company and client):

In my opinion, viagra sale actions like this are unprofessional at best,  if not outright reprehensible.  And the type of pest being treated? Bed Bugs! Considering how the public at large views Bed Bugs and Bed Bug infested properties, not only is this irresponsible it is almost certainly illegal as a betrayal of client confidentiality and trust.

Bayonne Exterminating Company has long held its customers information and specifics under strict confidentiality.  As a matter of fact, when I revealed the event above to my technical staff they were shocked that this kind of thing could even happen.  Honestly, it boggles my mind as well.

As our customer, you can be sure that your information will not be made public without a court order or a directive from the local Board of Health, and at that time the information would ONLY be released to the specific authorities requesting it.

Never, ever, ever, will ANY of our clients information be utilized in part of advertising without a prior written consent.  And if your problems are with a pest like Bed Bugs, you can rest assured we will never ask.  It’s bad enough that someone is dealing with problems like this, making their private struggle a public one is completely unthinkable.

Pest Control, a caring undertaking?

Can you work in an industry that engages in the wholesale slaughter of God’s Little Creatures on a daily basis, hospital and still be considered a caring, considerate individual?  Well maybe “wholesale slaughter” is the wrong phrase, but it’s not like we’re rehabilitating these creatures and shipping them to a wild game farm or something.  Even our non-toxic approaches are not exactly pest friendly.  Rodent proofing only means those cute little field mice will freeze in the winter and be exposed to predators!  Affecting sanitation will only deprive hungry little buggies of the food with which to feed their families, leading to a slow, lingering death through starvation and illness.

Can you really “Kill with Kindness” or “Knock ‘em Dead- with Love”?

Is it possible to see the vast diversity of life on this earth, with all of its beautiful and unique creatures, and snuff it?

You’re Damn right you can!  I do every day.  You see, the difference is where you draw the line about what you care about.  Maybe that’s what we need to project a bit more: our caring, compassionate side, not just the “roll up the sleeves and get to work” professionalism we’re all trying to project.  As you can see, our market is softening, maybe we should soften up a bit too, it might help.

A little less Antlion, a little more Ladybug, so to speak.

In the last few years our marketing paradigm has shifted from the man of the house to the lady of the house.  Our product choices are dictated by an ever earth-friendlier consumer group that is limiting our pesticide choices and making some mouse jobs more like catch and release fishing!  Now people want to know if we have hybrid vehicles!  You want to know my idea of true, green pest control?  A Tech on a bicycle with a fly swatter in his teeth and a pocket full of glueboards.  He won’t need a clipboard, do you have any idea how many trees it takes to print out a week of work orders?  And he sure won’t use a PDA, do you have any idea how big the carbon footprint is on those things? And Actual Pesticides? Ha! Do people even use that stuff anymore?

I hope you can find the humor in this exaggeration, and that you understand our future is much brighter.  At the root of our biggest obstacles and challenges, (School IPM, the “green” consumer movement, etc.)  resides our biggest opportunity.  We are provided a chance to pin our hearts on our sleeves and do things because we care.  We can care about the kids, we can care about our environment, we can care about our companies, our employees and co-workers.

We care about our future- and not just our own future, everyone’s.

My God, if that’s not the ideal marketing message, I don’t know what is.

Ladies and gentlemen, face it, Tom Mix is long dead and so are all the dead-eyed, quick gun sheriffs that never smiled in those westerns.  Even heroes can hurt, care and cry. The Good Guys don’t always wear white and ride an appaloosa pony into the sunset.

Sometimes they wear green and ride a bicycle.

Bayonne New Jersey Bed Bug Alerts

We are proud to offer the next generation in Bed Bug Services, malady Heat Treatments. Our Chaser Free and Chaser Plus treatment programs offer immediate relief,

come with a 3 month warranty and are available as a

Pesticide Free, and/or a limited pesticide treatment option.

Studies have shown that all stages of Bed Bugs (Adult, Nymph and Egg) are controlled by increasing the heat in their environment to only 122 degrees for 60 seconds. There is no waiting period, results are immediate and our unique heat delivery system is des

igned never to exceed 140 degrees in any condition, ensuring your home and valuables will not be damaged during treatment. You’ll be able to re-enter your Bed Bug free ho

me within 3-4 hours of the beginning of treatment.

Preparation for a conventional (pesticide-based) bed bug treatment can be costly, time consuming and must be repeated with each application. Heat treatments play by a different set of rules, with minimal preparation and only one treatment for immediate effect, so the burden on the residents of affected units is greatly reduced.