As the weather warms up, the threat of increased mosquito activity looms in the air. With the threat of more mosquitoes comes the threat of diseases transmitted by this irritating pest…such as Zika. Modern medicine and research allow for frequent new learnings. Here, we will explore the implications of the Zika virus in 2018.
Zika in 2018
Luckily, Zika has been far less of a problem this year compared to 2017. However, until a vaccine is successfully created and approved, scientists are concerned that a re-emergence is imminent. As scientists learn more about Zika and pregnancy, the biggest concern with the virus these days seems to be pregnancy-related complications.
Though 2018 has not seen nearly the amount of Zika activity as previous years, it does not mean that there is no reason for concern. It is important to keep the possibility of an outbreak top of mind so that you and your family can be properly prepared. Better to be safe than sorry.
How do you get Zika?
The primary vectors of Zika are mosquitoes, but it can also be transmitted through unprotected sex with a partner that is infected by Zika. Even if the person is not showing Zika symptoms, transmission is still possible.
Zika Virus Prevention
The best way to prevent Zika is to protect yourself and your family from mosquitoes. To do so, we recommend you take the following actions:
- Use a mosquito net when sleeping
- Apply and use insect repellent (see the EPA’s guide)
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors
- Keep garden vegetation trimmed
- Eliminate stagnant water
- Use fans to keep air circulating
Zika Virus Test
At present, there are two main types of tests used to detect Zika virus. Molecular tests use urine samples to detect the virus and serologic tests are blood tests to look for antibodies in one’s blood.
The tests are generally only recommended for patients showing symptoms of Zika, those who live in or have traveled to an area with a Zika risk, or persons who have had unprotected sex with someone who either lives or has traveled to an area with a high Zika risk. In the case of pregnant women, the same conditions apply, but tests are generally also done if the baby is exhibiting signs of birth defects that may be caused by Zika.
How do I treat it? Is there a Zika Virus vaccine?
There is not yet an approved vaccine to prevent or treat Zika, however, many drug companies have been racing to be the first to successfully create one. In June of 2016, the FDA approved the first set of Zika vaccine human trials. Since then, the race has continued as the various companies try to progress through the advanced stages of vaccine development. Some are in phase 3 (out of four), but scientists do not anticipate there will be a vaccine in time for this mosquito season. Fingers crossed for 2019!
Zika Virus and Pregnancy
Scientists now know that a pregnant woman can pass Zika virus to her unborn child, potentially causing brain defects such as microcephaly. Microcephaly is a condition of unusually small head size. During development, a baby’s head traditionally grows to accommodate the growing brain within. In the case of a baby with microcephaly, the brain either ceases growth or does not develop properly, resulting in a small head size. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), babies with microcephaly can experience the following problems, ranging in severity on a case-by-case basis:
- Developmental delay, such as problems with speech or other developmental milestones (like sitting, standing, and walking)
- Intellectual disability (decreased ability to learn and function in daily life)
- Problems with movement and balance
- Feeding problems, such as difficulty swallowing
- Hearing loss
- Vision problems
It is not yet clear how likely a pregnancy is to be affected by a Zika infection. Studies are still being done to determine the full range of effects a Zika infection during pregnancy will have on the baby. But if you are pregnant or are considering attempting to become pregnant, be sure to take caution in selecting travel destinations and in preventing mosquito bites.
Preventing Zika with Ehrlich Pest Control
Your best defense against Zika is mosquito control. Ehrlich’s comprehensive mosquito control program will work to control breeding and keep mosquito populations down. Before implementing a solution, an Ehrlich pest specialist will conduct a thorough inspection of your property to determine the most effective mosquito removal and prevention solutions for your situation.
Contact us today to schedule an inspection and start on your way to protecting your family from the potential dangers of mosquitoes.