If you watch the news or browse the Internet, you’ve definitely heard of the Zika Virus by now. But you may be having trouble deciphering how much danger there is and whom it could affect. As your Central Mass mosquito control experts, we’d like to keep you up to speed as best we can. While updates can be found on our mosquito blog, we have outlined the basic Zika facts and known dangers below.
What is the Zika Virus?
The Zika Virus is a virus primarily spread to humans by infected mosquito bites. There have been no locally transmitted cases of Zika in the United States yet, but there are large outbreaks in tropical destinations where the main transmitting mosquito (Aedes Aegypti) is plentiful. Most people infected with Zika will not experience illness and those who do usually experience mild symptoms that can include muscle pain, headache, red eyes, rash, fever or joint pain. Zika symptoms usually dissipate on their own in a few days to a week. Once someone has been infected by the Zika Virus their body usually becomes immune to future infections.
Zika Virus has come into the world spotlight due to a discovery that Zika Virus infection during pregnancy can cause microcephaly in infants. Microcephaly is a birth defect that causes the infant’s head to be smaller than expected when compared to other infants of the same age and gender. Microcephaly can be an isolated condition, or it can come in combination with a myriad of other major birth defects. The range of problems that can occur with microcephaly is broad, from seizures and vision problems to intellectual disabilities. Severe cases of microcephaly can lead to death. Learn more about microcephaly from the CDC.
Where is the Zika Virus?
The current outbreak of Zika Virus is mostly centered in tropical regions including The Caribbean, Central America, South America, The Pacific Islands and Mexico. Follow the CDC’s travel guide to keep up to date with the latest endemic areas.
Because Zika Virus is transmitted to mosquitoes from infected humans and to other humans through sexual activity, Zika could arrive in the United States this summer from travelers. Currently, the Zika Virus is known to be carried and transmitted by the Aedes Aegypti (Asian Tiger mosquito) and Aedes Albopictus mosquitoes, making areas where those mosquitoes live higher risk areas. Central Massachusetts happens to be home to the aggressive Asian Tiger mosquito, meaning we could see some local mosquito-borne cases of Zika this summer.
What are the Health Risks if I Become Infected with Zika?
While less than 20% of those infected with Zika Virus will become ill, there are some major health conditions to cause concern. The causal relationship between Zika Virus during pregnancy and microcephaly in infants it the main concern right now. If you are pregnant or intend to become pregnant is important to
- Follow the CDC’s travel guide.
- Follow the CDC’s guide for couples considering pregnancy.
- See your doctor immediately if you suspect you’ve been exposed to Zika. Zika Virus during pregnancy does not mean you WILL have a child with birth defects, the rate of incident is yet to be determined. But it is vital to stay under the close care of a physician if you have Zika while pregnant.
The scientific community has discovered some links between Zika Virus and auto-immune disorders. They continue to research these links and will report to the public when the “links” become more concrete.
Zika Virus Prevention
Avoiding mosquitoes and mosquito bites is the best way to avoid potential infection of Zika Virus. We are committed to providing you the best information for staying up-to-date on the threat of mosquito-borne illnesses in the Central Massachusetts area. Don’t forget, to limit the population of mosquitoes on your property, follow the 5T’s of mosquito control.