Officials in Orange County unveiled a detailed Zika Virus action plan to protect residents. The mosquito-borne virus has been linked to birth defects.

The Zika virus has been found in Central and South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. The symptoms are usually very mild and many don’t realize they are infected. Symptoms normally take 2-7 days to begin.

Only one in five people infected with Zika virus will get sick, with the most common symptoms being fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes. There have been reports of increased cases of a birth defect known as microcephaly if a pregnant woman is infected with the virus.

There is currently no vaccine to prevent infection and no treatment for Zika virus.

County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus and Commissioner of Health Dr. Eli Avila on Monday announced Orange County’s comprehensive plan to protect residents from Zika virus and other mosquito-borne diseases.
“At this time, there is virtually no risk of acquiring Zika virus in this region, but travelers to some foreign countries can be susceptible,” Neuhaus said in a statement. “This disease is emerging as a worldwide health threat. Our action plan addresses the potential threat of Zika virus in Orange County and ways to prevent and monitor it vigilantly.”

Orange County’s comprehensive, state-mandated Zika Action Plan includes:
• Human and Mosquito Surveillance Activities
• Public Education
• Mosquito Trapping, Testing and Habitat Inspections and
• Mosquito Control

To reduce the mosquito population around your home and property, County Executive Neuhaus reminds you to take the following steps to reduce or eliminate standing water:
• Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar water-holding containers.
• Drill drain holes in the bottoms of recycling containers that are kept outdoors.
• Make sure that your roof gutters drain properly, and clean clogged gutters
• Turn over wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.
• Change the water in birdbaths twice a week.
• Remove all discarded tires from your property.
• Clean vegetation and debris from the edges of ponds.
• Drain water from pool covers. Also, remove leaves and debris as they collect on covers to reduce breeding areas.
• Use landscaping to eliminate standing water that collects on your property.
• Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish. Water gardens are fashionable but become major mosquito producers if they are allowed to stagnate.

For more information about Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases, please call the Orange County Department of Health at 291-2332 or visit www.orangecountygov.com/health.