Protecting Akwesasne from ZIKA
By Les Benedict, SRMT Environment Division
As with many other harmful viruses the mosquito has been the carrier for many contagions through the years such as West Nile Virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, and now the Zika virus. The Zika virus has been making headlines in the news lately as world health experts try to contain its spread throughout South and Central America. It is a new and emerging concern in North America now and has many people concerned because of the effect it has on development of unborn babies, often resulting in a debilitating birth defect known as microcephaly.
The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe wishes to keep the community informed about the spread of Zika as well as other mosquito borne diseases because, although they are serious diseases, there is much one can do to reduce their own risk.
In the case of mosquito borne diseases like Zika, West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis, mosquitoes breed in stagnant water sources such as unused objects, garbage and refuse that might collect water.
An important part of mosquito control around your home is making sure that mosquitoes do not have a place to lay their eggs. Because mosquitoes need water to do this it is very important to monitor standing water sources around your house.
The SRMT Solid Waste program will be having its Bi-annual spring cleanup this year. As such this will present an opportunity for all community members to remove these standing water sources around your home: things such as old rain gutters, buckets, plastic covers, toys, old bird baths, and any other potential standing water sources. This free tribal program runs from May 9 to June 10, and represents a great opportunity to eliminate potential breeding grounds for these disease carrying insects.
The Pesticide Program supports the Solid Waste programs efforts to keep the community safe by getting rid of unused objects and containers in the yard, including tires, that can collect and hold water because they act as mosquito incubators. These measures are part of Integrated Pest Management or IPM and the objective to look for ways to control pests before using pesticides. So, eliminate stagnant water sources, turn over wading pools, wheel barrows, canoes and small boats. Regularly change water in pet dishes and bird baths. Keep swimming pool water treated and circulating. To prevent mosquitoes from entering the home, cover all gaps in walls, doors and windows, make sure window and door screens are bug tight and repair any damaged screens. Chemical control includes a range of pesticides including repellent. But, before using any pesticide, READ AND FOLLOW THE LABEL. Overuse, improper use, improper storage and disposal are leadings causes of accidental pesticide poisoning. Also, remember even if a product says it is natural, that doesn’t make it less harmful or more safe, sometimes these products can be just as deadly. For more pesticide information, contact the Environment Division, 518-358-5937.