It seems as though with each summer season, there is a new scare concerning mosquitoes and the viruses they may carry. This summer is no exception.
The Zika virus disease is transmitted primarily by Aedes mosquitos, which usually bite during the day with peaks during early and late afternoon/evening hours. It was first identified in rhesus monkeys in Uganda in 1947 and in humans in 1952.
Zika Virus Concern Is Global
Prior to 2015, the Zika virus was reported in certain areas of Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. It has now stretched across the oceans and landed in the Caribbean, Central America as well as South America. The World Health Organization reports that 64 countries and territories have reported transmission of Zika virus since January 2007.
While there have been no reported cases from mosquito bites in the United States, there have been cases where someone contracted the virus through travels to countries with current outbreaks.
Some have even begun to cancel trips or vacations because of the Zika virus.
“The concern of Zika virus infection resulted in several colleagues of mine canceling trips to South America and Mexico,” said Shelby Booker, a medical student at Michigan State University.
With the 2016 Olympic Games being held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, officials are beginning to take action against the mosquito population to keep both locals and visitors healthy.
According to CNN Health, Brazil will launch a “Herculean” effort to fumigate the mosquitoes in Rio.
Zika Virus Symptoms
According to the World Health Organization, 80% of those with the virus will never show symptoms, If you become infected with the disease, it may be hard to notice because it can easily be mistaken for something else. The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
The disease is not life threatening and because the symptoms are often common – fever, rash, joint pains, headache or red eyes – it would be easy to overlook. Pregnant women should be especially careful of this virus because they can pass the virus on to the fetus during pregnancy or during the time of delivery. The virus may also be transmitted through sexual contact.
Now that you know what it is, how do you protect yourself from it? There is no specific treatment or vaccine that is currently available, so whether traveling abroad or staying local, the World Health Organization suggests:
- Use insect repellent regularly
- Wear lightly colored clothing that covers as much of the body as possible
- Create barriers by placing screens in your windows and doors
- Sleep under a mosquito net if camping
- Treat clothing and gear with permethrin (an insecticide)
Most importantly, if you believe you or someone you know has been infected with the Zika virus, contact your physician or visit the nearest emergency room.
If you plan on traveling, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention created a handy resource for mosquito bite prevention.
Check out these easy-to-grow mosquito repellent plants for your home garden.
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