Zika numbers rise, QC health departments testing mosquitoes

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ROCK ISLAND, Illinois -- The Centers for Disease Control has issued a warning for people not to travel to South Florida. This is the first travel warning as of August 3, 2016 within the United States since the first spread of Zika.

The total number of people impacted by the spread of Zika is now at 15.

To keep an eye on the spread, Rock Island County Health Department has been putting up traps along the Quad Cities to test mosquitoes for diseases like Zika and West Nile Virus.

Testing mosquito viruses isn't an easy job.

"This is pretty smelly stuff. The rabbit pellets, which is usually alfalfa, does not smell good at all," says Sheri Duhme, Sanitarian, Rock Island County Health Department.

"In this tub we have stagnant water. We prepare a nice brew that the mosquitoes are drawn to," says Sheri as she shows News 8 how the water in the traps help attract mosquitoes.

Sheri is just one of dozens who work to protect the community by testing mosquito borne illnesses.

"This is called a Gravit Trap. When mosquitoes land on the water, we have a fan that blows them up and into the net and they are stuck in the net here," added Sheri

The net is then put on ice and the mosquitoes are frozen to death. Then, they go to a lab for testing.

"The Eighties Aegypti is the known vector of the Zika Virus and we have not had any history of that in our community and are monitoring for that in that way," says Sheri.

The Rock Island County Health Department's efforts not only benefit our health, but they are also an important resource for blood donation centers.

Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center says the tests help understand future needs for blood donations.

"After all that's how we know. That's the reporting mechanism of Zika and they know where these clusters are and investigate why there are these clusters in this area," says spokesperson, Kirby Winn

Anytime a different species of mosquito is found in traps, health departments send their findings to the state for further testing.

Rock Island County says their traps have not come back positive for any West Nile viruses so far this year.

Experts say the best way to protect yourself against mosquito borne illnesses is by the three 'R's'

Reduce, Repel and Report.

Reduce your time outside, repel mosquitoes with clothing and replant containing deet and report any illnesses to the health department.