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Metro families take action to prevent Zika virus

Posted: 10:36 PM, May 20, 2016
Updated: 2016-05-21 11:33:28-04

People in the metro are taking more action to combat mosquitoes as concerns about Zika virus grow across the country.

On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the amount of pregnant women infected with the virus in the US is nearly triple what medical officials initially believed.

According to CDC statistics, 157 pregnant women are infected with Zika virus in America. The number of cases reported skyrocketed after CDC officials included women who tested positive for Zika, regardless of symptoms.

So far, six cases have been reported in Kansas and Missouri.

No cases have been reported in the Kansas City metro area, but concern about the spread of Zika means more people are calling mosquito control companies such as Mosquito Joe.

Although the company is normally busy in the summer, Mosquito Joe manager Dale Maginness said this year sticks out from the rest.

"We're probably getting twice the amount of phone calls that we got last year," he said.

On Friday, Mosquito Joe stopped by a number of homes to perform mosquito control operations.

"We're looking for drains, flower pots, children's toys. Anything that has water in them," Maginness said.

He also explained that it doesn't take much for mosquitoes to form near someone's home.

"Some places as small as a cup or handful of water, they can lay hundreds of mosquito eggs in there," explained Maginness.

Lisa Simmermon, a mother of two young children, lives at one of the homes in Leawood that Mosquito Joe stopped at on Friday.

"I need the yard to be a place where it's not a risky place to be," she said.

Simmermon explained that during the summertime, she needs to take extra precaution to keep her children safe.

"They are outside and playing in the sprinkler. That attracts the mosquitoes even more," she said. "It's not just about getting an itchy bug bite, it's about staying healthy and potentially contracting a dangerous disease."

The Kansas City Department of Health is also taking extra measures to keep people informed about Zika virus this summer.

According to PIO Denesha Snell, the health department sent out pamphlets earlier this spring inside envelopes containing peoples' water bills.

Doctors say the Zika virus is spread through bites from the Aedes aegypti mosquito.

They say around one in five people will have symptoms of Zika after being bitten by one of the mosquitoes. These symptoms include fever, rash, red eyes, and joint pain.

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Tom Dempsey can be reached at  Tom.Dempsey@KSHB.com.

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