AAMA, CDC Talk Screens to Stop Zika Virus

May 10th, 2016 by Editor

To help combat the mosquito-borne Zika virus in Puerto Rico, the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) recently hosted a forum with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  to generate ideas on how to provide more screens for doors and windows on the island’s homes.

There are no vaccines or medications to prevent or treat Zika. Efforts to prevent mosquito bites are crucial to stop the spread of the disease.

The CDC says it went to Puerto Rico and tested ways to mosquito-proof the homes of pregnant women, who are at especially high risk of birth defects if infected. Unfortunately, a pilot program that provided window screening “do-it-yourself” kits wasn’t successful. Non-standard windows are common in Puerto Rico, so a one-size-fits-all approach didn’t work, the CDC says. Additionally, many homes on the island have jalousie-style windows, which don’t provide enough room in existing window boxes to install screens and still allow the windows to open. Finally, a lot of structures in Puerto Rico are made from  materials such as concrete block and stucco, which make it difficult to attach screens to window frames and buildings. The CDC says Velcro, staples and duct tape were tested but didn’t work.

Because of these problems, installation kits sent to Puerto Rico and other tropical areas in the future must be easy to install, able to withstand high humidity and rainy seasons, and allow natural light and airflow in the house.

The CDC welcomes ideas from AAMA members and others in the industry to provide screens for doors and windows on  homes in Puerto Rico and potentially other territories facing the Zika threat, such as the U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa.

Puerto Rico reported its first Zika case in December 2015. As of May 4, 2016, more than 650 Zika cases have been reported there, and the number is expected to increase substantially in the upcoming hot, rainy season. About 34,000 babies are born each year in Puerto Rico, and thousands of expectant mothers are at risk for infection.

Suggestions to help screen homes can be sent directly to the CDC at eocevent290@cdc.gov.

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