Zika Virus: 5 Things To Know
By Ron Harrison, Ph.D.
Mosquitoes have found their way into the global spotlight yet again, this time due to Zika virus. Previously, Zika virus cases were limited to parts of Africa and Asia, but an increase in cases has been reported in Brazil and other Caribbean and South American countries. What’s more is that the World Health Organization (WHO) has verified the virus is certain to continue spreading to additional countries.
As a facility manager, you may be wondering if you should be concerned? The truth is, just as with other mosquito-transmitted viruses, it is important to prevent the mosquito activity that could lead to illness. But you should also understand that, in most cases, Zika virus usually causes mild symptoms that do not come with long-lasting health implications.
Here are the top five things you should know:
1. How is Zika virus transmitted, and is it in the United States?
Aedes-species mosquitoes are known to transmit Zika virus — and can also spread yellow fever, dengue fever and Chikungunya virus — to humans through their bites. While no domestically transmitted cases of Zika virus have been reported, travelers returning from affected countries have been infected.
2. What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of Zika virus are typically mild, and it’s rare that hospitalization would become necessary. The most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis, muscle pain, and headache, all of which can last two to seven days.
3. Are there more serious health concerns related to Zika virus?
After the Zika virus outbreak in Brazil, there were reports of microcephaly in newborn babies and a rare immune system disorder called Guillain-Barre syndrome. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has stated that evidence supports a possible link between Zika virus and microcephaly, but a direct causal link has not yet been proven.
4. How do I treat Zika virus?
No vaccines or medications are currently available to prevent or treat Zika virus, but researchers are hard at work to develop them. If symptoms associated with Zika virus develop after visiting a known affected area, call a healthcare provider immediately. Plenty of rest and fluids to prevent dehydration are recommended as well.
5. How can I prevent mosquito activity that could lead to Zika virus?
Mosquitoes are known to transmit other Zika virus and other illnesses, so it’s important to take steps to prevent their activity on your property. Modify mosquito-conducive habitats by removing standing water and trimming thick vegetation, and ensure all potential entry points through windows, walls and doors are sealed.
The latest on Zika virus from CDC can be found here.
What Densification Means For Your Building’s Pest Control Program
By Patrick T. Copps, MS, B.C.E.
“Densification” of space is having a profound effect on the commercial real estate industry. While packing more people into less space may impact rental income and per square foot expenses, it also impacts pest pressure. In fact, “densified” office spaces actually increase the number of pest attractants by providing more of the things pests like — namely food, moisture, water, and harborage.
When you increase the number of people in the same square footage, there are more material items that can come with each person — more food sources, more water, and more places for pests to hide, such as electronic equipment, desks, and paper. You’re also welcoming more amenities, from fitness centers to restaurants, and more deliveries that are taken directly into offices. These incoming goods and services can bring hitchhiking pests with them and more opportunities for insects and rodents to find their way indoors.
Another aspect of increasing density is the role that human behavior plays on a daily basis. When there is less space available, the areas that may have typically been used for a single purpose become multi-purpose. For example, a desk may become a lunch table, meaning there’s now food waste in an area that wasn’t there before.
If you are moving toward more condensed floor plans, it’s important to ask yourself, “Am I prepared for dealing with the pest implications that may arise with more people?” If you’re not, then there’s a good chance you’re going to have a problem.
Facility managers can speak with their pest management professionals about adjusting a pest management program to accommodate the new areas around the office that present potential pressure points. An appropriate Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program will use proactive, preventive measures to help combat the increase in conditions that can attract pests. By relying on a proactive process, IPM helps prevent pest activity before it starts and helps minimize the facility’s dependency on chemical-based products at the same time.
In conjunction with a solid IPM program, here are five tips to put into practice to help avoid pest problems in an open floor plan office:
1. Collaboration is key.
Open floor plans come with more collaborative spaces — conference rooms, common work areas and the like. People know it’s at least partially their responsibility to clean their own offices, but who’s responsible for keeping shared spaces clean? Make sure the facility maintenance team knows to keep shared meeting spaces clean when they’re not in use. Also, consider designating someone from your administrative staff to keep an eye on communal areas.
2. Watch the water.
More people on each floor means coffee machines and filtered water machines are going to get a lot more use — and more fills means more spills. Encourage occupants to clean the areas around these machines more often and put a small trash container right next to the machine to cut down on tiny spills from creamer cups, sugar packets, and water.
3. Keep it clean.
There are many knickknacks around an office that can attract and harbor pests. Encourage occupants to keep their workspaces tidy, remove any food and drink containers after use, and dispose of their paper before it piles up.
4. Reduce, reuse, recycle.
Where there are people, there’s trash. You may need to increase the frequency of your trash and recycling pickups to keep up with the increased waste production. Unaddressed trash pileups can invite serious pest problems. Discuss options with your waste management professional, and be sure to educate occupants on the building’s recycling program.
5. Call in the experts.
Even with all of the above tips in place, you may still see more pests. Talk to your pest control provider about the challenges you’re facing. Make sure he or she is coming frequently enough and conducting a thorough inspection every time. Remember: renovation is a perfect opportunity to start implementing these practices — and a pivotal time to start identifying any potential risks for “densified” floor plans.
Copps is technical services manager for Orkin’s Pacific Division. A Board Certified Entomologist in urban and industrial entomology, he has more than 35 years of experience in the industry.