Salt Lake City mosquito abatement crews ramping up efforts to detect Zika Virus

Posted at 6:03 PM, May 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-20 20:03:17-04

SALT LAKE CITY - As the Zika Virus evolves quickly around the world, is it a big threat to Salt Lake City?

According to the Utah Department of Health, four cases of Zika Virus have surfaced in Utah. Each patient contracted the mosquito-borne illness outside of the country.

"Most of the people we are testing are asymptomatic, said Dallin Peterson, an Epidemiologist with the Utah Department of Health.

Pregnant women are most at-risk because the virus causes birth defects to unborn children.

Although the mosquito carrying the Zika virus hasn't reached Utah, abatement crews aren't taking any chances. They're setting up specialized traps and collecting thousands of mosquitoes.

"This was a trap specifically designed to capture Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes," said Ary Faraji, Assistant Manager for the SLC Abatement District.

Crews are targeting areas with standing water.

"Since these mosquitoes lay large eggs in these containers, such as tires, buckets, a lid that may be holding water," Faraji said.

Faraji says staying ahead of the virus is key.

"We're trying to be proactive through our surveillance, so we can detect their presence early enough to intervene with effective control measures," he said.

Keeping the virus out of Salt Lake will take some extra work from everyone.

"We just don’t have the resources to go through every backyard and remove that discarded tire, or remove the bucket behind the shed, or the tarp that may be collecting water that is covering your barbecue," Faraji said.

The Department of Health is working on securing funds so places like St. George can purchase these specialized traps.