The Zika virus is getting a lot of attention in the news right now and I am sure that you have heard about it but not many know what it is, the symptoms, or how it is spread. Today I am going to cover all of those aspects to help you be as informed as possible. So let’s get started.
What is the Zika Virus?
The Zika Virus is a tropical disease that was first discovered in 1947 in the Zika Forest located in Uganda, which is where the virus’ name has originated from. The first known human to become ill with the Zika virus was detected in 1952. There were only 14 cases documented before 2007. However, many cases could have gone unreported because the symptoms are very common to other illnesses and may not have been recognized as being caused from the Zika virus.
In 2015, the Zika virus had unfortunately made its way to Brazil with the first confirmed case being discovered in May, 2015. Just since October 2015 Brazil’s Health Ministry has reported 3,530 babies with microcephaly suspected to be caused by the Zika virus. Then on February 1, 2016 the Zika virus was declared a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organization.
The CDC released an update on February 26, 2016 that stated between January 1, 2015 and February 24, 2016 there were 107 reported cases of the Zika Virus in the United States and 40 cases in US Territories. All of the state side cases have been a result of traveling to an infected destination. Only 1 of the 40 Zika virus cases in US territories has been a result of traveling, the rest of the 39 cases have been locally acquired.
Symptoms of the Zika Virus
Approximately 1 in 5 people that have been bitten by an infected mosquito will become symptomatic. The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting up to a week. The time from exposure to becoming symptomatic is unknown with this disease. Many people may not even realize that they are sick with the Zika virus because they do not get sick enough to seek treatment. This is why so many Zika virus cases go unreported. The virus usually remains in the blood for up to a week but has been found in some cases after a week’s time.
The Most Common Symptoms Include:
- Joint Pain
- Conjunctivitis (red eyes)
Other Symptoms Include:
- Muscle Pain
If you are symptomatic and have concerns that you may have been exposed to the virus you should see your healthcare provider for testing. If you have traveled to an infected area recently make sure to tell your healthcare provider when and where you went. They will most likely order blood tests that will test for the Zika virus and similar diseases like dengue or chikungunya, which have many of the same symptoms.
Unfortunately, there is no vaccine at this time to prevent contracting this disease. There are also no medications available to specifically treat it either. Zika is a virus that you have to let run its course and treat the symptoms as they arise.
How is the Zika Virus Spread?
The Zika Virus is mainly spread during the event that you are bitten by an infected mosquito. The Aedes aegypti mosquito (aka yellow fever mosquito) is the primary species that spreads the Zika virus. This species of mosquito tends to populate coastal areas in South Carolina, Hawaii, parts of Arizona, and the states boarding the Gulf of Mexico from Florida to Texas. Zika is also believed to be spread by the Aedes albopictus mosquito which during the summer months travels as far north as New York, New Jersey, and has also been found in parts of Illinois and Indiana.
A pregnant mother can also pass the Zika virus onto her unborn child if she has been bitten by an infected mosquito or has come in contact sexually with an infected male partner. The virus can be very detrimental in a case like this. According to the CDC, there is strong evidence to show that the Zika virus has been linked to causing a birth defect called Microcephaly. Microcephaly is when a baby is born with an undersized, underdeveloped skull and brain. It is more likely for the unborn child to be affected if the mother was infected during the first trimester of her pregnancy, which is when brain development occurs. However there is evidence that proves it to be possible for symptoms to be present even when infected during the second trimester. The CDC is continuing to study this link closely to get a better understanding of it.
Prevent the Spread by Eliminating Mosquitoes
The best way to prevent yourself or your family from contracting the Zika virus is to stay away from infected destinations, but that may not be as easy for the ones that live in these destinations. So the next best thing to do is to take all precautions possible to eliminate mosquitoes from your outdoor spaces. Our tried and true 4 step process for ultimate mosquito control will help you to protect your family from the threat that mosquitoes bring.
The first step that you should take is to remove or treat all possible water sources that could pose as a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Anything that can hold 2 tsp or more of water is a potential breeding ground. Empty flower pots or containers should be stored upside down, old tires should be removed or stored in a shed or garage, and all other water sources that cannot be removed should be treated with a larvacide. It only takes a mosquito larva 4-7 days to mature into biting adults. But eliminated the breeding ground is just the starting point.
Moving on to the second step of the process is to lure mosquitoes away from your backyard with the use of a mosquito trap. The most effective mosquito traps use a combination of CO2 and various attractants to create human and animal-like characteristics that trick mosquitoes into thinking the trap is a living host. The mosquito trap with the help of an attractant will lure the mosquitoes to the trap, suck them in where they will be trapped until they dehydrate and die. The female mosquitoes will be attracted the most to a trap. That is how the traps are effective in interrupting the life cycle of the mosquito population on your property. But there is always stragglers left behind and that is why you should continue on to the third step of the Ultimate Mosquito Control process.
Use a mosquito mister to get rid of the stragglers that are left behind in your yard. The third step of our exclusive four step process involves using a mosquito misting system to kill biting mosquitoes that are active in your outdoor living area. Mosquito misting systems offer long-lasting protection against mosquito bites by creating an invisible barrier between you and mosquitoes using a variety of concentrates as mists that repel and kill mosquitoes on contact. It’s as easy as that!
The fourth and final step is to protect your person with mosquito repellents. You can instill all of the previous steps on your property but unfortunately you cannot make your neighbors do the same so it is still important for you to use a personal repellent when you are going to be outdoors for any length of time. We recommend using a personal repellent appliance from ThermaCell. These appliances are great at providing protection up to a 15 ft. diameter. Many of our employees at NorthlineExpress use the ThermaCell products and love them, including myself. I use my ThermaCell all the time when outside mowing the lawn or doing other yard work that stirs up clouds of mosquitoes.