Q: How is Zika virus transmitted?
A: Zika virus is spread through the bite of an infected Aedes genus of mosquitoes, which is the same type of mosquito that carries dengue fever and chikungunya. Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which live predominantly in tropical and sub-tropical regions, are the primary carriers.
Q: What are the chances of an outbreak in the United States?
A: While the probability of infected mosquitoes traveling to the United States is unlikely, there is reason to believe that Zika virus can spread locally. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other organizations are monitoring the situation closely.
Q: What are the symptoms of Zika virus?
A: In general, most cases cause no symptoms. Only about 1 in 5 people infected with Zika virus become ill. Those who do develop symptoms often experience several days of mild headaches, fever, rash, conjunctivitis (red eyes) and joint pain.
Q: What is the treatment for Zika virus?
A: Zika virus is a self-limiting disease that typically only requires supportive care. Unfortunately, there is no medicine to treat Zika virus, nor any vaccine to prevent it at this time.
The 20 percent of infected people who actually develop symptoms should get plenty of rest, stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids, and take acetaminophen for pain. It’s important to avoid aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) until another infection like dengue fever can be ruled out.
Q: Can infection in a pregnant woman cause birth defects?
A: Zika virus has been linked to a neurological disorder called microcephaly, which is known to halt brain development in newborn babies, cause babies to be born with small heads and lead to early death. It should be noted that 2,782 cases of microcephaly were reported in Brazil in 2015, when the Zika virus outbreak began, compared to 147 cases in 2014 and 167 cases in 2013.
Q: How can I prevent Zika virus?
A: The NPMA urges people to protect their skin from mosquito bites when outdoors by applying an effective insect repellant containing at least 20% DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon-eucalyptus. People who are spending long amounts of time outdoors should also consider wearing long pants and long sleeved shirts to limit exposure to mosquitoes. The type of mosquito that carries Zika virus is daytime biter, so taking preventive measures at all times of the day is crucial.
It’s also important to take steps around one’s property to combat mosquito nesting and breeding sites. This includes eliminating standing water in or around the home, keeping windows and doors properly screened and repairing even the smallest tear or hole.
Concerned about mosquitoes in your yard? Call DA Exterminating at 800-650-PEST.