Dear Brother and Sister Tonini,
In October of 2016, the Brethren requested that all missionaries throughout the world be protected by insect repellent containing DEET, a well-known mosquito repellent. The foresight of that request is now becoming apparent.
As you may have heard, the California Department of Public Health released a March 31 report that two invasive mosquito species known to carry the Zika virus have been found in 10 California counties, including Riverside. This does not mean that Zika has been transmitted to humans in California. The only documented U.S. cases of viral transmission from a mosquito to a human took place in South Florida and Brownsville, Texas last year. However, the possibility exists now that the mosquitos that carry this disease are in the state.
That same report indicated that a total of 529 cases of Zika infections have been confirmed in California. These are “laboratory confirmed” cases, but they occurred when residents of the state traveled abroad. Zika is generally a mild disease, causing symptoms in only 18% of people who get the illness. Most often those who have symptoms experience mild flu-like fever, joint pain, muscle pain, headache and red eyes. Again, there have been no mosquito-to-human transmissions in California. The Missionary Department continues to monitor the situation for any change.
Because of the counsel received, the mission took precautions last October to protect the elders and sisters. The repellent they have has a concentration sufficient to be effective during the time our missionaries are out. We have strongly counseled them to be faithful in applying it whenever they are outside and intend to follow up on compliance. Please add your encouragement to ours!
We express our gratitude for sharing Sister Tonini with us in the missionary work of the California Riverside Mission and want you to know that her safety is our highest priority.
President John H. Mullen and Sister Jana L. Mullen