Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.
In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infection in Brazil. The outbreak in Brazil led to reports of Guillain-Barré syndrome and pregnant women giving birth to babies with birth defects and poor pregnancy outcomes.
So far, the only reported cases in the U.S. are visitors or returning travelers from overseas. However, there is the possibility that these imported cases could result in local spread of the virus in some areas of the United States.
The best source of information about contagious disease is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Familiarize yourself with the facts about Zika on the CDC Zika Virus page and share this information with your tenants and residents.
Preparing for disaster and responding appropriately once it occurs is imperative. IREM offers a free tutorial where you can learn what it takes to develop a disaster plan. We also offer several checklists to help you prepare your properties for a variety of disaster scenarios and disease outbreaks. If you need a comprehensive resource, Before and After Disaster Strikes provides detailed information on how to prepare an emergency procedures manual for your properties.
Because Zika is a mosquito-borne infection, there are things property managers can do to fight the spread of the disease by curbing the breeding of mosquitoes on your properties, and educating the residents and tenants you serve.
- Inspect property for standing water and remove immediately
- Check roofs for ponding water
- Repair pot holes or pavement cracks where water can accumulate
- Clean gutters and drains
- Adjust irrigation systems to avoid excess water
- Empty standing water from flower pots and lawn areas
- Ensure drains are flowing freely
- Repair leaking faucets
- Check screens on windows and rain barrels to prevent mosquito entry
- Check property for hidden trash, containers, or debris where water can accumulate
- Conduct regular maintenance on swimming pools and fountains
- Check with city or municipal services regarding local control programs
- Implement mosquito abatement program as part of pest control management
- Ensure insect repellent is available for the property
- Consider landscaping techniques to attract mosquitoes’ natural predators
- Advise residents/tenants to use insect repellent and dress in long sleeves and pants, especially at dawn and dusk
- Educate residents/tenants on how to prevent and eliminate mosquito breeding sources
- Notify residents/tenants when mosquito abatement will take place so exposure to chemicals can be reduced
IREM Legislative staff have created a Zika Virus resource page with additional information regarding the Zika virus and what property managers need to know.
About the Author
Karen Kazmierczak is the Digital Strategist at IREM headquarters. She oversees IREM's digital communications and marketing, including the website, social media, and blog.
Photo credit: This image is a work of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, part of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, taken or made as part of an employee's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.