Ask the Bug Doc: Is Zika Virus Really Something to Worry About?

Q:

Sometimes, I’m not sure how seriously to take the news – is Zika virus really something to worry about?

A: What a great question! We’ve learned a lot about Zika virus in the past year, so let’s lay out the facts.

Nancy-Troyano-Photo

Dr. Nancy Troyano, Director of Technical Education and Training

As of right now, most cases of Zika virus in the United States are travel-acquired cases. What that means is that the people diagnosed with Zika virus were bitten by a mosquito while traveling in a Zika-endemic area outside of the continental U.S. and contracted the virus. However, there have been a few documented cases of locally acquired transmission – where people who have not traveled were bitten by a mosquito in the U.S. and contracted the virus.

The scientific community believes that we will see more of these locally acquired cases in 2017. The areas most at risk are the Southern states – from Florida west to Texas. As we see more locally acquired cases develop, the risk of contracting Zika virus will increase for everyone.

Here are some things about Zika virus that we know:

  • For most healthy adults, a Zika virus infection will manifest as mild flu-like symptoms and likely clear on its own within a few weeks. However, long-term effects of having the disease have not yet been determined.
  • Women of child-bearing age should be acutely aware of Zika virus risks. When mothers are infected with Zika virus just prior to or during their pregnancy, there is a risk of severe birth defects for the child.
  • Zika virus can be transmitted sexually from the male to the female. Men, especially those with female partners of child-bearing age, should be aware of this risk.

So what does this mean for YOU?

Whether or not you are in a high-risk area for Zika virus, it’s never too early to start taking precautions against mosquitoes. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Remember, mosquitoes are responsible for the spread of other diseases, such as West Nile virus, which is a risk across the U.S.
  • Always wear an EPA-approved insect repellent when outdoors.
  • Remove standing water on your property. Without water, mosquitoes cannot breed.
  • Do what you can to mosquito-proof outdoor spaces where you spend time – deter mosquitoes by using fans, as they are weak fliers and will not be able to cross the air current. Also, consider a regular barrier treatment conducted by a pest management professional for your yard.
  • Be sure your windows have screens.
  • If you are traveling outside of the U.S. or to a high-risk area within the U.S., stay vigilant to avoid being bitten.
  • If you or your partner are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, take extra precautions. Contact your family doctor before making travel plans to high-risk areas.

Ehrlich Pest Control specialists have ways to prevent mosquitoes from ruining your outdoor activities. Contact a mosquito control specialist for a consultation today!

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