Amy McIntosh is the managing editor of Storm Water Solutions. McIntosh can be reached at
Jun 29, 2016

The Threat Continues

Almost five months after being declared a public health emergency, the Zika virus continues to make headlines. Yesterday, the Senate blocked a $1.1 billion federal funding bill to fight the disease-carrying mosquitoes. Olympic athletes have begun pulling out of this year’s Rio games, and citizens in the U.S. and around the world are increasingly canceling or diverting their travel plans from regions affected by the disease.

If you’re unfamiliar with Zika, here’s a quick refresher: The virus is transmitted through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most people infected with Zika have mild symptoms that do not require hospitalization. However, the disease is more serious for pregnant women, as it is known to cause microcephaly, a dangerous birth defect characterized by abnormal brain growth in fetuses.

The World Health Organization officially declared the Zika outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern in February 2016. Most reports of Zika have originated in South America and the Caribbean; all reported cases in the U.S. so far have been the result of international travel. The CDC provides an up-to-date list of Zika information for travelers.

The mosquitoes that transmit the Zika virus lay their eggs in standing water. That means rain barrels, retention ponds, clogged inlets and other elements that involve the collection of water out in the open are prime real estate for mosquito larvae. Even water left undisturbed on impervious surfaces, such as a road or patio, can be a breeding ground for the mosquitoes.

Properly screening and applying mosquito dunks to rain barrels and storm water BMPs can help eliminate mosquito breeding. Proper drainage to eliminate standing water also is recommended.

Are you seeing any innovative steps being taken to prevent the spread of Zika? Let us know in the comments or at