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 residential units.

The CDC says it tested ways to “mosquito-proof” the homes of pregnant women in Puerto Rico, who are at especially high risk of birth defects if infected. Unfortunately, a pilot program that provided window screening “do-it-yourself” kits for these homes, many of which are rental units, 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 residential units 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 building.

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

“The CDC involved AAMA, as experts in the industry, to reach out to our members and the industry at large in order to encourage creative problem solving,” says AAMA marketing manager Angela Dickson. “The need to find solutions for screens on jalousie windows and entry doors in Puerto Rico is an urgent one, as the prevention of the Zika Virus in that territory could save over 34,000 newborns from birth defects. The industry certainly stepped up to the plate by offering multiple options during the forum for the CDC to consider.”

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

There are no vaccines or medications to prevent or treat Zika. Efforts to prevent mosquito bites are key to helping prevent the spread of Zika.

Suggestions to help screen homes can be sent directly to the CDC at