Zika spraying occurs in local San Diego area

Zika outbreaks have occured throughout San Diego County. Officials have sprayed in several locations near the University of San Diego’s campus.

Zika outbreaks have occured throughout San Diego County. Officials have sprayed in several locations near the University of San Diego’s campus.

Much of the buzz around the 2016 Rio Olympics was around the Zika virus. Since the olympics the virus has spread, including to the United States. Most recently the virus showed signs of life in South Park. The Zika virus, which is found in Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes in Brazil and other tropical countries, scared residents when a suspected case was found in South Park, a San Diego neighborhood.

South Park is located just 15 minutes southwest of the University of San Diego, near the Southeast side of Balboa Park. In late August, an individual who travelled abroad to an area where the Zika virus is present, showed possible symptoms of the disease after returning to San Diego. Although most mosquitos in the San Diego area do not have the Zika virus, the fear is that any mosquito that bite the infected individual could have spread the disease.

The South Park incident is the closest case to the University of San Diego so far. However over 30 individuals have been diagnosed with the Zika virus in the San Diego County. Symptoms of Zika virus can often be confused as common illnesses and could take up to 10 days to show.

San Diego County is currently taking several preventative measures to combat any possible outbreaks. The county has sprayed in multiple areas, most recently in Normal Heights and Mount Hope areas.

San Diego County workers first entered the South Park neighborhood earlier this month to spray pesticides to kill adult mosquitos who could possibly be carrying several diseases, including Zika.

The community was outraged when workers entered the community without notice to spray. By law the county is allowed to enter properties without notice if it relates to a serious health concern to the public.

Senior Jack Roccato is a resident of North Park, the community that borders South Park and Normal Heights. Roccato admitted he doesn’t know much about the disease, but thinks it is a good idea to be preventative.

“I think [the spraying] is okay,” Roccato said. “I don’t know much about it, but, if it is preventative and safe to use, I think it is a good idea.”

Community members were concerned that the pesticide could be harmful to their health, especially for children and pets. County officials said that the community should not be concerned. San Diego County supervising vector ecologist, Chris Conlan, explained that the pesticides being used are not to be feared by the residents.

“The dose at which we are applying is so low it really is just targeting those small insects like mosquitoes,” Conlan said. “The half-life is really so low. It degrades rapidly,”

Photo Courtesy of Muhammad Mahdi Karim/WikiCC

Photo Courtesy of Muhammad Mahdi Karim/WikiCC

Recent sprayings in areas near elementary schools resulted in parents removing their children from the school for the day. The pesticide, which breaks down after being exposed to sunlight for 20 to 30 minutes, is said to be minimal and low-risk to human health.

Dr. Eric Mcdonald, Deputy Public Health Officer of San Diego County, has been helping to oversee the spraying to ensure the public safety. He insisted that the county coordinated with the school to make sure children were not outside when the pesticides were being sprayed.

The effects of the Zika virus are still relatively unknown. Zika, which can show very minimal effects, can cause fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis in individuals. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the disease can cause severe birth defects and other pregnancy problems. The CDC also said that there is a high association between the Zika virus and Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS). GBS is an uncommon sickness of the nervous system that can cause severe muscle weakness.

Recently the La Jolla Institute of Allergy and Immunology, in conjunction with The Rockefeller University, released new research on the Zika virus. The research occurred in genetically modified mice and showed that adult brain cells may be susceptible to the virus as well. The findings showed that the virus could affect cells that replace lost or damaged neurons that could be critical to learning and memory. The researchers did stress that further investigation will need to be done to certify the findings, but, if true, the virus will have a greater effect than prior to these research findings.

For now, much remains unknown about the Zika virus. County officials insist they are doing all they can to keep San Diego residents safe from the disease.

Written by Kevin Nelson, News Editor