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The Original 9/11, Fifteen Years After

111neverfogetSeptember 11th used to just be another early fall day in the ninth month of the year. All that changed in 2001, however. The world changed forever, that morning, when 19 Muslim terrorists launched a concerted effort to hijack four commercial airliners in the United States. They were successful. The most powerful military in the world was unable to stop men armed only with box cutters from attacking the heart of the nation. Our air defenses were finely tuned to stop an attack from OUTSIDE the United States. Four hijacked aircraft, fat with fuel for long flights from NYC and NJ to California, were quickly and intentionally crashed into targets on the ground. Three of those planes hit their targets. Two planes struck the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, in NYC, vaporizing everyone on board the planes and causing out-of-control fires in the buildings which caused both of the 110 story structures to collapse. Loss of life on the ground was tremendous. Nearly 3,000 people were killed; many were not even Americans. Over 90 countries had citizens killed in the attacks. Around 6,000 people were injured. Only the incredible heroism and sacrifice of first responders prevented an even greater tragedy. They paid a heavy price; this event marked the greatest loss of life among American firefighters and police officers in all US history.

Only the December, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, by the Empire of Japan, could come close to the carnage. That, at least, had been directed towards the US MILITARY, and had only been a surprise attack by accident and incompetence. The 9/11 attack was an intentional assault on human decency, itself, and was a crime against humanity.

What of the other two planes? Hijackers successfully flew the third plane into the Pentagon, the very heart of the United States military. Again, the plane took off from so close that it was impossible to sort out the chaos, much less stop it before the terrorists flew it into their target. Sadly, 125 people died when the Pentagon was struck.

The hijackers of the fourth plane were not so successful. Passengers and crew were able to receive news of what was occurring elsewhere. They then tried to wrest control of the plane from the hijackers. That plane crashed into a Pennsylvania cornfield, intentionally or otherwise, during the struggle for control. Their target is generally thought to have been the US capitol building, or the White House. American civilians on that plane, alone and afraid, stopped them from committing further carnage. These brave passengers were also heroes. They surely saved many lives on the ground with their own sacrifices.

Roughly a month after 9/11, The United States would soon invade Afghanistan, as that country had harbored Osama Bin Laden, the fanatical mastermind of the terrorist attacks. The Taliban government there would soon be driven out, but to this very day, the United States is ensnared in ensuring they remain defeated.

In 2003, Iraq was also invaded by the United States and our allies, believing the Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, was also involved in the 9/11 attacks upon the US. No credible evidence has ever been produced to support this, but the United States still remains committed to supporting the weak democracy that now governs the country; once that criminal was removed, and finally given the ultimate justice by his own people.

The US, and the world, have changed irrevocably since the original 9/11. US government deficits have expanded to record levels, partly to fight the War on Terror, the longest conflict in US History. The Department of Homeland Security was formed, as the newest cabinet level position, under the President. There are serious concerns about our government having now become too big, too intrusive, and a danger to basic civil rights. Americans have been forced to become more paranoid about their safety…something that had long been taken for granted. The Middle East remains an incredibly unstable region, despite an international effort to crush terrorism there. The future is uncertain, but the seeds of the original 9/11 will be with us for a long time. Generations from now, the world will still be dealing with the repercussions.

Freedom is not free. Remember those who paid with their lives on that day, 15 years ago, and those who have since, so that others could be free.

Lonnie Brett Griffith
Assistant Professor of History

Science Department Expanding Classes for Fall 2016 Due to Student Interest

3B3A9128You read from time-to-time that the U.S. is lagging behind other countries in math and science. While this may or may not be true, the Chatfield Science Department is conducting more classes between both campuses for Fall 2016 than has been the case in many years. Classes have been offered in the past, but getting enough students to keep the class on the schedule has been challenging. That is not so for the Fall 2016 semester. Human Biology is in progress at both campuses as is College Biology. Chemistry I is being conducted at both campuses for the first time in at least six years. We are even also offering Basic Chemistry at the OTR Campus. Ecology is also being offered at both campuses. For those who do not know, College Biology is a prerequisite for several other science classes so keep your eyes open to enroll in College Biology if you are interested in taking classes like Anatomy & Physiology or Microbiology.

As the Department Chair and the College Biology instructor at the OTR campus, I would like to do a shout out and offer kudos for two enthusiastic students, Fay Grove and Shanika Moore, who made a presentation of carbohydrates, lipids & fats, proteins and nucleic acids more exciting than usual. We even debated the role of high fructose corn syrup in association with obesity in the U.S. We discussed anabolic steroids and the importance of proteins to our human biological processes. If you see either one of these students, be sure to ask them why babies need milk but the majority of adults in the United Sates are likely to be lactose intolerant?

One final comment, can you name the organization that determines the difference between good science and bad science? I will give you a moment to think about that…… of course you can’t name it, because there isn’t one. Other Scientists monitor published science experiments. They scrutinize the data, results and experimental design and then if scientists can replicate the experiment over and over, time after time, then new ideas become accepted ideas. If not, that idea gets kicked to the curb. Thank goodness for the Scientific Method. See you around campus.

Chatfield College Plans to Renovate OTR Park

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Students often use this park for art classes.

A triangular shaped park wedged between Kemp Alley, Liberty Street and Central Parkway may be getting a face-lift, thanks to Chatfield College.

Directly adjacent to the college’s new campus in Over-the-Rhine, the park currently has grass, some nice trees, and a few weather-worn concrete walkways, but neither furniture nor programming.  Chatfield College wants to transform it into a thriving green space to be used as an outdoor classroom and meeting destination, filled with year-round neighborhood and student activity.

“Now that our new state-of-the-art campus in OTR has been in operation for nearly a year, we believe that the revitalization of the park adjoining the campus is the next logical step in providing even more opportunities to our students and our Over-the-Rhine neighbors,” said John P. Tafaro, Chatfield’s President.

Planned improvements to the park include a sitting wall, park benches, landscaping, trees, and a paved focal gathering space as well as new sidewalks, and the resurfacing of the adjacent Kemp Ally, making a seamless transition between park and college campus.  The landscaping and architectural plan was designed in 2014 when Chatfield College partnered with Miami University’s Department of Architecture and Center for Community Engagement.  Miami students living and working in Over-the-Rhine actually designed the park renovations as part of a landscape design class.  The plans compliment the aesthetics of Chatfield’s recent building renovations, which won a Historic Preservation Award in 2015 from the Cincinnati Preservation Association.

The renovated park will offer Chatfield students and instructors an inspiring outdoor classroom, be a venue for community events, and inspire pride in students and community members.

“We believe that this green space project will benefit our students overall experience at Chatfield, as well as provide a wonderful resource to our neighbors in Over-the-Rhine,” said Patricia Homan, OSU, Chatfield’s OTR Associate Dean and Site Director.  “Green space is viewed as an essential part of the urban and collegiate infrastructure.  Studies indicate that areas where there are green spaces experience higher rates of community involvement and lower crime rates.”

Partial funding for the project has already been secured, and Chatfield has an agreement with the Cincinnati Park Board to move forward with the project as proposed as soon as the remaining funds are acquired and City Council has approved it.  Once initiated, construction should be completed within six months.

Sister Patricia continued, “In addition to offering attractive, outdoor learning and study space for our OTR students, this project is sure to make a positive impact on the surrounding OTR community. Urban green spaces are proven to increase positive social engagement, safety levels and property values in the neighborhoods where they are located.”

Chatfield College is a private, Catholic, liberal arts college offering the Associate of Arts degree in St. Martin and Cincinnati. An open enrollment college, Chatfield is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.  For more information, visit the website, at www.chatfield.edu, call (513) 921-9856 or e-mail admissions@chatfield.edu

Welcome, or Welcome Back, to Chatfield!

young tafaro

John Tafaro, circa 1961

I distinctly remember going back to school in the fall as a child growing up in New Jersey.  At Catholic grade school – they call it Grammar School in the east – I can still vividly recall the smell and feel of a new, white shirt, fresh out of its plastic wrapping.   After removing the pins and cardboard inside the collar, it was still pretty stiff the first time I put it on.  Adding a new, knit tie completed the torturous process.

I must tell you the truth, in case you haven’t already figured it out. I didn’t like returning to school back then, especially because of how hot it was immediately after Labor Day when we started – also a change from modern day where we get a jump on school in mid-August.  Of course, we also had no air conditioning.  How great would it have been to begin classes in the comfort and coolness of the beautiful Mongan Academic Building in St. Martin, or the wonderful, new, state-of-the-art campus in OTR?

As I got older, going to high school, then college, I actually began to look forward to the start of the school year.  I got to see old friends again, and was anxious to make new friends of the people who arrived at school for the first time.

Then in law school, attending at night as an adult learner with a family at home, I went year-round, and discovered all the things we now know about learning and academic progress: that going to school in the summer has many advantages. We know from reliable data that students who attend fall, spring and summer semesters retain more knowledge, have a better chance of success, graduate sooner, and with less debt.  That’s a winning combination!  You should consider it next summer, for sure.

So, if you are a new student, welcome! If you are returning, welcome back!  I hope you will reconnect with former classmates, and make new friends.

Chatfield is a friendly place.  One of our Ursuline core values is to create a community of support for one another.  Make it a point to say hello to someone who might look lost, or confused, or overwhelmed.  Give them some encouragement or simply a kind word. You might be beginning a friendship that will last a lifetime.

And please stop me in the hall when you see me, too, to introduce yourself.  Be ready for me to ask you about your classes, your instructors, and your academic progress.  Like the rest of our board, faculty and staff, I am interested in you, committed to your success, and proud to have you as part of the Chatfield family.

Have a great semester.  See you at Chatfield!

-John P. Tafaro, President

Returning to School as an Adult

Are you ready to begin or go back to school?

adult-students-02Going to college or entering a job training program is a big decision. You have to be in the right frame of mind to succeed at getting a credential or finishing your degree.

There are many reasons adults over age 25 return to school. Some are planning a career change or need new skills or credentials to move up in their career. Others enroll for personal development or after there has been a change in their life situation.

There are a number of things to consider:

  • Identify what your reasons are for going to school.
  • Consider the pros and cons.
  • Be realistic about the time commitment and energy involved in taking classes.
  • Figure out how you will pay for tuition, books, and other expenses.
  • Do your homework about programs and schools to find the right fit.
  • Decide whether you want to go part time, full time, or take online classes.
  • Explore options to earn college credit from prior learning or by exam.
  • Think about if you want to enter a multi-year program, or take an accelerated, shorter program.

Returning to School

You may feel like you are in unknown territory and need some extra guidance. There are many steps you need to take before you begin your first class.

  • Schedule a campus visit or attend an admission event for adult learners.
  • Make an appointment with someone in student services or admissions that supports adult learners. They can help you navigate through the admissions process.
  • Order your transcripts from any previous colleges you attended or your high school.
  • Complete any required admissions tests or placement evaluations and assessments.
  • Fill out the admissions application. This can often be done online. Some admission requirements for may not apply to older students.
  • Apply for financial aid using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). There is no age limit for federal or state aid.
  • Make an advising or counseling appointment to help chose your class schedule and make a graduation plan.
  • Sign up for classes.

If you are returning from the military:

  • Seek out a veteran’s counselor on campus. Transitioning to civilian life is a challenge, and adjusting to school can be difficult. Other students your age will not be coming from the same experiences as you and may not be as mature.
  • You will be in a less structured environment and it may take some getting used to.
  • Start the admission and military financial aid process early.
  • Remember that your military transcript may be worth college credit.

Adjusting to School

A non-traditional student often has delayed enrollment in college for various reasons. These students usually attend school part time, work full time, are financially independent, and often have children or other family that depend on them. Some adult learners over age 25 need to earn their high school diploma before enrolling.

Adult learners face many challenges that younger students don’t:

  • They worry that they don’t have good study skills.
  • They think they don’t have time for it.
  • They don’t think they can afford to go to school because of other financial commitments.
  • They may be intimidated by the college environment and worried about feeling isolated.
  • They often have to juggle career, family, and school responsibilities.

Easing the transition:

  • Take advantage of lower-pressure learning opportunities, such as refresher classes, to get to know the academic environment.
  • Start on a part-time basis rather than jumping in full time.
  • Be a positive role model, respect diversity, and be assertive in the classroom. You will be interacting with younger students. You may have a different lifestyle, attitude, and way of learning than the traditional, fresh-out-of-high-school student.
  • Be prepared for homework. Have a private, quiet place at home to study. Start early and allow extra time to complete assignments. Get help if you need it.
  • Be realistic about what the college environment will be like.
  • Talk with your family about how going back to school will affect home life and changes that will occur.
  • Expect to feel some stress. Students of all ages do.

Staying in School

The following are some tips to get you through that first year. They will help you stay committed to finishing school.

  • Go at your own pace to avoid being overwhelmed.
  • Seek out transitional counseling assistance and support groups. Many students leave the first year because of financial and adjustment problems.
  • Find a peer group to help you study, spend time with, and keep you on track.
  • Keep focused on your short and long-term goals.
  • Expect money to be tight while you are in school. Look for ways to cut back on expenses.
  • Create a school schedule well in advance to allow for family commitments. Get extra help with household chores.
  • Keep to a regular study schedule.
  • Learn to say “no” to activities and requests you don’t have time for.
  • Take time for yourself and your family to relax and stay connected.
  • Involve yourself in campus activities.
  • Exercise, and take frequent breaks from the routine of work, home, and school.
  • Meet with your advisor or counselor regularly to help plan your class schedule so you complete your credential or degree on time and other guidance.
  • Don’t get discouraged or give up. Take one semester at a time.

Content originally published here.

6 Tips to Get You Mentally Prepared for College

6358807491559534981433414291_collegeIf you’ve chosen the school, are set on a major, and already have your financial aid all squared away, you might think you’re 100% ready for college. But are you mentally prepared for what is to come? During this last month of summer, review this final off-to-college checklist with a few things you may have overlooked.

#1. Brace yourself for newness.

Whether you’re going to the hometown college or heading across the country, college is a time of change. If you’re leaving home for the first time, it is especially different, with your parents not around to take care of things for you and give you advice, and no set of house rules to follow. But no matter who you are, college is a major life transition. You’re leaving the familiar and broaching the unfamiliar. You’re being exposed to many different types of people and ways of thinking, which changes how you view the world and yourself. Know that things may feel uncomfortable for awhile.

#2. Maintain your support system.

Who are you closest to? Maintain those ties and don’t be afraid to lean on your support system when you need to. The first semester or year of college can be overwhelming in good and bad ways, and you may sometimes need people outside of your college friends and classmates to talk to. Even if you’re eager to be on your own, stay in touch with the people in your life who have your best interests at heart and are there for you when you need support.

#3. Learn to manage your time well.

Poor time management will be your worst enemy in college. Start off on the right foot by getting a handle on your schedule, buying a planner, and USING that planner. Don’t over commit yourself to too many things, but remember that the key to juggling a full course load, social life, and job (if applicable) is being structured and efficient with your time. So, get organized when school begins, and don’t let yourself fall into bad habits, such as piling up papers and never keeping track of upcoming important dates.

#4. Know that you may need help from time to time.

The transition to college may be more difficult than you expect. Before the first day even begins, scope out the services that can help you through—the tutoring center, counseling services, disability services, and more. Every college campus has a wide variety of support services designed to make your college experience great—and give you help when you need it.

#5. Teach yourself life skills you’ll need.

On your own for the first time? If you’ve never been a morning person, now is the time to practice getting up early. If you’re bad at budgeting, laundry, or cooking, don’t wait until adulthood to learn. Don’t let life’s to-dos sneak up on you and cause you stress. And remember that it’s important to take care of yourself at college. Strive for balance in all that you do.

#6. Be open.

College is a place where you will meet and interact with many new people from all walks of life—and form lifelong friendships. It might surprise you who you develop strong connections with. Be willing to get to know all types of people.

Content originally published here.

Submit Public Comment

Chatfield College is seeking comments from the public about the College in preparation for its periodic evaluation by its regional accrediting agency. The College will host a visit October 24-25, 2016, with a team representing the Higher Learning Commission. Chatfield College has been accredited by HLC since 1971. The team will review the institution’s ongoing ability to meet HLC’s Criteria for Accreditation. The public is invited to submit comments regarding the college to the following address: Public Comment on Chatfield College Higher Learning Commission 230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500 Chicago, IL 60604-1411 The public may also submit comments on HLC’s website at www.hlcommission.org/comment. Comments must address substantive matters related to the quality of the institution or its academic programs. Comments must be in writing. All comments must be received by September 26, 2016.

Submit Comment Now

Nature Lovers (& Pokemon Hunters): Welcome At Chatfield!

Snake & LeeOn any given day I can walk outside the Welcome Center at Chatfield and become immersed in the natural surroundings of the St. Martin campus. No other college or university in the area can offer such a gorgeous expanse of acreage for its community to utilize for spiritual, personal, family or recreational use. The college grounds are a verdant gem in the rural farm country of northern Brown County, and I hope that it stays that way.

If you ask someone from within a 20 mile radius about Chatfield, that person may say that it is a college, nuns live there, the chapel is beautiful, they used to have an indoor pool, and that the campus driveway was considered for a part in a little movie called Rain Man. What they may not tell you is that Chatfield is a veritable treasure of flora and fauna that gets overlooked as just another chunk of ground in the middle of Ohio farmland.

When I walk around campus on one of my work breaks, I can’t help but fall in love with the scenery over and over again. From the conservation of the natural waterway that runs through the entrance, to the reflection of the chapel in the pond- along with turtles basking on the bank- to the largest tulip poplar I have ever seen, Chatfield’s campus is a natural showcase. Anyone who has an appreciation for plant and wildlife would be remiss in not taking the time to explore the grounds.

IMG_0848One of my favorite things to do is tell visitors about our diverse bird population. That usually starts with me pointing out our nest of baby birds- Eastern Phoebes- at the entrance to the Welcome Center. The nest currently has 4 chicks and is on top of a light fixture next to the doorway. Mom and dad feed the chicks insects every few minutes. They are not shy, and will sit perched on a twig (or sign, or post, or bench…) and watch the coming and going of people walking by. When the coast is clear, the parents fly to the nest and are greeted by a cacophony of chirps, peeps, squawks, and wide-open mouths.

Another insect eater on campus is the Barn Swallow. These birds are aerial acrobats and quickly fly back and forth, skimming the grass for mosquitoes and other flying insects. They build nests in the eaves of buildings, and we have a pair of them under the porch roof of the gymnasium. If you get too close you will be in danger of losing some hair, as swallows will dive bomb intruders! I can’t help but watch them dart back and forth across the yard and am always struck by their grace and agility.

A gorgeous and energetic bird found on campus is the Red Headed Woodpecker. We have a pair of them, more than likely nesting in a rotted tree somewhere close by. One of them likes to sit on the fence around the tennis court. The male and female look alike, with a bright red head, white body and black wings. Woodpeckers make two drumming noises. One, when they are drilling into trees looking for insects; the other is used when they are “marking” their territory by drumming loudly on trees, gutters, telephone and electric poles, and any other object they take a fancy to.

There are, of course, other birds on campus that are equally interesting. Walking around the paths and driveways on campus will bring visitors in contact with Goldfinches, House Finches, Chipping Sparrows, Dark Eyed Juncos, Wrens, Downy Woodpeckers, Eastern Kingbirds, Robins, Pine Siskins, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Crows, Starlings, Red Wing Blackbirds, Red Tailed Hawks, Great Blue Herons, Black- and Turkey- Vultures, and so many others. Binoculars are a no-brainer if you intend to spend some time exploring.

There are also larger creatures to be seen on a visit to Chatfield. One day while coming back from lunch a group of us saw a doe and her fawn walking through the creek that runs through the front of the property. The doe was standing in a shallow pool and her spotted fawn was running and bucking in a circle around her. I was driving and, as is my habit, looked upstream and saw the doe look up at us. I quickly stopped and backed up so that we could get a better look at them. One of my passengers made a joke about my quick braking and we laughed, but it was a wonderful moment that I got to share with my team of co-workers.

Another instance of coming into contact with the wildlife on campus happened when my 12- year-old daughter took a summer enrichment drawing class. She was sitting on a bench outside working on her tree drawing. She happened to look up and out toward the small field next to the cemetery and noticed something moving. It was a group of coyote pups, playing and jumping at each other in the tall grass. The mother was off in the distance, watching. My daughter, who takes after her mom, was not in the least bit concerned about the coyotes. She was delighted to see them and counted herself lucky to have the chance to watch them play. Her only regret was that she did not have my camera with her. We looked for them later, but they had moved on.

If you are a fan of snakes, we have those, too. Several black rat snakes have been seen on campus. Black rat snakes are very beneficial, non-aggressive, and beautiful to watch. I once followed one that I shooed away from the driveway. I even reached down to touch it as it moved into the grass. It paused and flicked its tongue a couple times, then went on its way, which happened to be a large hole in one of the maple trees by the tennis court. The day before, I had removed a small black snake from a (human) populated area and released it on a back corner of the property. One of my co-workers insisted on taking a picture, and now I have been given the moniker of “snake charmer!”

IMG_2675 (1)While a love of nature and wildlife may not be shared equally by all visitors to Chatfield, this is a place where students, families, and the community can come to relax in the quiet spaces and get away from the stressors and triggers of the daily grind. The grounds are open to the public until 10:00 pm every day. Bring a blanket to spread out underneath the huge beech tree. Pack some lunch to eat on one of our picnic tables. Children can play Frisbee or tennis- or hunt Pokemon- while parents walk through the grass in their bare feet. Watch for butterflies and hummingbirds along the edges of campus where the wildflowers grow. Take the dog for a walk around the pond and feed the bass and bluegill that gather in the shallows. Bring a camera, binoculars, or drawing supplies. Whatever it is that brings visitors to Chatfield, we want everyone to leave with a feeling of contentment that cannot be duplicated, and that will instill a desire to come back again and again.

PS:  Don’t forget to sign up for our annual 5K Run/Walk on Saturday, July 23! Get your dose of the great outdoors while helping out our students. The 5K helps fund our student scholarships, and this year, it also benefits the Hope Emergency Center. Bring a school supply and get discounted registration.  Check out our website www.chatfield.edu/5K for information.

-Lee Rose, Admissions Counselor

 

 

 

On To College by John Baylor: Five Tips for a Teen’s Summer

Summer can be a notoriously wasted three months for students. I know that mine often were. Parents might want to share these summer strategies with their lethargic teen in order to maximize his or her time away from the classroom:

  • Champions are made during the off-season: Colleges primarily care about the Big Three: grades, scores, and one extra-curricular.  Summers are when good cellists become great, when good actors refine their skills.  My tennis-playing daughter intends to master her volley before the fall.  Encourage your teen to set specific, reasonable goals and then to implement intentional, regular practice to accomplish them.  Your child may discover more joy and college interest from that extra-curricular.
  • Earn enough money now to avoid having to work during the school year: Many teens work a part-time schedule during the summer and school year.  Have them work full time now and over school breaks, and perhaps only one weekend day per week during the school year. Grades, scores, and one extra-curricular should pay more than flipping burgers.  Have your teen work more now and less this fall, when time really counts.
  • Volunteer. Scholarship committees and selective colleges love leadership and selflessness.  Volunteering can exhibit both.  Encourage your teen to commit to a cause she believes in—volunteering at least twice a week this summer and then once a week during school. More importantly, volunteering fuels self-regard and the soul. If all teens invested in a volunteer activity they cared about, we’d have stronger, happier children.
  • Read at least three real books. Reading now should increase self-awareness, an inquisitive nature, that ACT score, and the GPA. Encourage your teen to choose books that interest her; a trip together to the library or bookstore in search of one sounds like a great way to jump-start summer.
  • Set aside fun time with family. My junior-to-be will be leaving in about two years. So I treasure long walks together, trips to the ice cream store, games of tennis, and watching movies– for my own sake but also to help ensure that her summer doesn’t become too purposeful. During these times I just try to listen, asking questions as needed.

Of course, the above is not an exhaustive list.  Tiger parents might also push teens to prepare for the ACT or SAT, work with tutors to attack academic weaknesses, keep a journal, and self-publish a book—all worthy goals.  But the above are basic strategies that should strengthen and rejuvenate any teen. And isn’t that the goal for this great time of year?

Original content can be found here.

Should You Be Worried About the Zika Virus?

This 2006 photo provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a female Aedes aegypti mosquito in the process of acquiring a blood meal from a human host. On Friday, Jan. 15, 2016, U.S. health officials are telling pregnant women to avoid travel to Latin America and Caribbean countries with outbreaks of a tropical illness linked to birth defects. The Zika virus is spread through mosquito bites from Aedes aegypti and causes only a mild illness in most people. But there’s been mounting evidence linking the virus to a surge of a rare birth defect in Brazil. (James Gathany/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention via AP)

This 2006 photo provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a female Aedes aegypti mosquito in the process of acquiring a blood meal from a human host. 

By now, you have probably heard of the Zika virus. The virus came to the attention of the world over the past few months due to an outbreak in Brazil, in particular because it is now known to have the ability to cause birth defects in pregnant women. Microencephaly, “small head” , is one of the major potential problems. In addition to the brain developmental problems resulting in the small head, microencephaly often results in the death of the child within just a few years.

Should you be worried? Unless you travel to Brazil, or some other country which harbors the Zika virus you have very little to worry about. In Ohio, the chances of coming down with the Zika virus are as close to zero as you can get. There are cases being monitored in Ohio but those have come from people who traveled to countries where Zika virus is already a problem. This includes the recent announcement from the Cincinnati Department of Health that Cincinnati has recorded its first travel related case. Studies have determined that Zika virus can be transmitted sexually from a man to a woman.  One such case has been documented in Ohio, when a husband traveled to a Zika country, unknowingly contracted the virus, and then came home and unfortunately passed the virus to his wife.

The main reason we do not have to worry in Ohio is that the primary mosquito vector (can carry the disease), Aedes aegypti, is not found in Ohio because it cannot survive the winters. A suspected secondary mosquito vector, Aedes albopictus (the Asian Tiger Mosquito), can be found in Ohio but would still have to bite someone who already has the disease in order to pass (transmit) the disease to someone else. The Ohio Department of Health is currently reporting 20 cases [we have 88 counties]. So this is highly unlikely, again, a near zero chance.

The other big news item related to Zika is high profile people who are choosing not to attend the Olympic Games in Rio de Janero, Brazil. It is encouraging to know that when we have summer, Brazil is having their version of winter, consequently, just like we do not have mosquitoes in the winter, mosquito activity in Rio is greatly reduced in their winter as well. But no matter what happens in Rio, there is little need to worry in Ohio. One more thing, if you recently saw a news item that said Cincinnati is number eight on the list of US cities for exposure to the Zika virus, consider the source. First of all, it was released by a mosquito control company with a vested interest in you buying their services. Secondly, the claim was based on a CDC map that is clearly labeled “potential range” for Aedes aegypti [not actually confirmed], and lastly, it made no mention of the fact that Aedes aegpti does not currently exist in the state of Ohio, nor will it any time in the near future because they cannot survive Ohio winters. The bottom line is that if you do not want to get bit by mosquitoes then take the necessary precautions to reduce the chances. You can find these precautions at the Ohio Department of Health website, the US Center for Disease Control and Cincinnati area health organizations.