You’d have to be living under a rock to miss all the news about Zika – the mosquito-borne virus that has hit epidemic proportions in parts of South America, Central America, and the Caribbean. While the virus causes relatively mild flu-like symptoms, Zika is a major threat to pregnant women, as it has been linked to birth defects like microcephaly, which causes babies to be born with undersized skulls.
The newest threat
Zika has made its way to the U.S., with cases cropping up in South Florida and in California. Generally, people are catching Zika while traveling abroad, then bringing it home. There have been three cases of sexually transmitted Zika in the U.S., and experts say that if local mosquitos start to carry Zika, we could quickly have an epidemic on our hands.
The Center for Disease Control and other health experts are recommending that people do everything they can to avoid being bitten by mosquitos, including wearing long sleeves and pants and using bug sprays with DEET.
So what does this have to do with you, realtors?
It has everything to do with you
Beyond trying to avoid bites, there’s a lot to be done to prevent reduce mosquito populations in the first place. As you may know, many species of mosquito breed in still water, leaving their eggs and larvae behind. The Aedes mosquito can breed in a pool of standing water the size of a bottle cap.
So just imagine how many billions of mosquito larvae might be living in uncovered swimming pools.
Code enforcement officials are looking at swimming pools in unoccupied or foreclosed properties as sites of unchecked mosquito breeding. According to Daniel Stallone, code compliance officer for the town of Davie, “any standing water needs to be addressed.” In his town, Stallone is distributing insecticidal tablets to pool owners, and is draining swimming pools at unoccupied houses.
How you can help
As realtors, you can do your part by seeing that swimming pools are drained at all the properties in your foreclosure listings, and by contacting banks to do the same with the properties they own.
Zika virus aside, draining neglected pools makes good sense, because it’s difficult for appraisers or potential buyers to fully inspect the condition of a pool while it still has water in it.
The threat of an epidemic is certainly scary, but Stallone assures us that if we all work together to reduce mosquito breeding pools, “we can get a handle on it.”