The threat of mosquito-borne Zika is rife given the 40 transmission cases that have been reported in Miami Beach and Pinellas County. The effect of the virus is worse among pregnant women. However, Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS) of all firms will not just sit back and watch the situation accelerate out of control. The company has vowed to strengthen its efforts to address the looming problem. In conjunction with Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Entertainment Inc (NYSE:SEAS), they will give out complimentary insect repellent to all guests in the parks and resorts.
The initiative is in Disney’s own interest, as any case of Zika being contracted at Disney World would scare others from visiting the resort, and the cost of repellent is comparatively low when put against the threat of an outbreak at an amusement park and the associated negative press.
Disney says prevention must be done through the mosquito-prevention and monitoring program. The trio’s move has been applauded by Tourism experts and Governor Rick Scott. The Governor has been talking to people in charge of parks, asking them to embrace every possible prevention measure. Scott has also held numerous conference calls with Visit Florida and tourism leaders in an effort to instill awareness that will help in combating fear.
Zika virus: Causes and associated risks
The mosquitoes thrive in dark and humid places. ‘Aedes aegypti’ is the primary transmitter of the Zika virus. The disease itself is not fatal, but pregnant women are at greater risk due to the affects the virus has on developing fetuses. There is no cure or vaccine for the virus as of yet. The virus affects the fetus’s brain, which can cause babies to be born with unusually small heads. Owing to this, UK health officials have warned pregnant women against traveling to affected areas until after pregnancy. Central Florida’s tourism industry is also at risk.
Prevention and maintenance
Apart from Disney’s efforts, there are other ways and means of combating Zika’s menace. Essentially, mosquitoes carrying Zika are primarily active in the daytime. Thus, residents may employ the use of sprays and insect foggers to contain the virus. There is a high possibility of having mosquitoes in collected stagnant water, which act as breeding grounds. Local officials have requested the public to empty all containers around the parks and resorts that have collected water. Zoo staff will also conduct regular checkups to ensure there are no tanks trapped with water.
The Food and Drug Administration is strongly urging for screening of the US blood supply, ensuring that it is free from the Zika virus. However, there is a challenge in the Caribbean that might make fighting the virus tougher; a brewing storm. Torrential rains are likely to activate massive breeding grounds for the virus-carrying mosquitoes. Nonetheless, there is hope that all efforts being put in place will handle the tension and fears.