With the warmer weather approaching, concerns about the Zika virus spreading to our area are growing. But is that worrying warranted? Pest control experts say probably not.
Tim Fullmer of Mosquito Shield of Southern New Jersey said he's fielded many phone calls from concerned homeowners.
"Early on in the year, there were a lot of calls from expectant parents who want to do all they can to keep their unborn children safe," said Fullmer.
This month U.S. health officials confirmed the Zika virus causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads and other severe brain defects.
The disease is spread by the Aedes mosquito, an insect that typically isn't found in our region.
With his experience with mosquitoes, Fullmer believes the illness is not something people need to be frantic about.
He admits however that you "never know how insects can travel." He advises avoiding travel if possible, or making sure you are wearing appropriate clothing when in an infected area.
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Corey Novak, general manager of Mosquito Platoon, a pest control company that services the tri-state, believes the virus is definitely something to be concerned about, but wants to focus on making sure their clients are educated on the lesser-known transmission through bodily fluids, in addition to a mosquito bite.
"We want to work away from scare tactics," says Novak.
Novak wants people to avoid paying to have their property sprayed when they really don't need it. He believes our area has a better chance of being impacted indirectly from seasonal workers traveling from Zika hotspots and staying in the United States for a few months during the summer, not the mosquito itself.
David Fisher is Vice President of North American Operations for Rentokil North America, which owns pest control company Ehrlich. He explained the company is taking the threat of the virus very seriously.
"No one should be panicking, but everyone should be educated," Fisher said.
Fisher encourages people to learn as much as they can to understand the virus, and explains that Ehrlich is working with customers to conduct mosquito breeding site tests to make sure people are safe.
All of the companies recommend that people read the official information that is being released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for a full understanding of Zika.