How to lower your risk of contracting the Zika virus
With warm, humid weather comes mosquitos, and with mosquitos come the risk of diseases, such as West Nile Virus, malaria, Yellow Fever, and more. This year, the Zika virus has become popular in the media because of its recently discovered link to abnormal brain development in fetuses through mother-to-child transmission. Unlike other mosquito-transmitted infections, the Zika virus does not have a vaccine to prevent or treat it. As of now, the Zika virus is spreading across South and Central America and has been discovered in mosquitos as far north as Mexico. As of Feb. 10, there have been 52 travel-associated Zika virus cases reported in the United States. Though there have been zero cases discovered that appear to be contracted locally, it’s important to reduce your risk of contracting the Zika virus.
Avoid mosquito bites by:
- Wearing long sleeves and pants.
- Using air conditioning instead of leaving windows and doors open to cool your home.
- Using screens on doors and windows when they are left open.
- Draining any standing water in your yard, including bird baths and unused swimming pools.
- Using Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved insect repellant, reapplying every few hours.
- Using permethrin-treated clothing and gear when spending extensive time outdoors.
If you have been bitten by a mosquito, it can take up to a week to notice the symptoms associated with the Zika virus.
Common Zika Virus symptoms include
- Joint pain
- Conjunctivitis (“pink eye”)
- Muscle pain
Be especially mindful of mosquitos when traveling to infection areas including: the Caribbean, Central America, South America, Mexico, the Pacific Islands, and Cape Verde.
For more information about the Zika virus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.