Zika Could Threaten Rural Ky Communities

May 14, 2017

Credit Stu Johnson

Hundreds of health care and other officials gathered in Lexington Thursday for a Zika Summit.  

State infectious disease specialist Dr. Ardis Hoven says local health departments in rural communities are being called upon to educate community leaders about the mosquito-born virus. “At the end of this month actually the preparedness branch is going to be doing more work on the environmental side, the vector control side and in educating groups involved in those communities as well,” said Hoven.

Hoven says a significant education program is also underway concerning pregnant women. The Zika virus is known to cause physical abnormalities in newborns.  Some 179 agencies were represented at the one-day summit.

Locally-transmitted Zika from mosquitoes has not yet been reported in Kentucky.  Hoven says the threat in rural communities may be less than in urban settings, but it remains a pressing issue.  “There are not as many people in the rural area and a mosquito can’t fly very far, so in that sense, it’s a little bit different,” explained Hoven. “But, the risks for mosquitoes being there still stands.”

The Asian Tiger Mosquito, a known potential carrier of Zika, typically has a limited flight range of a couple hundred feet.  Dr. Hoven says standing water remains a likely breeding ground for mosquitoes whether in urban or rural settings.​