Zika virus has made it to the United States. There have been confirmed cases in 10 states. Humans can contract Zika through the bite of an infected mosquito. Symptoms can last up to a week and typically include fever, rash, joint pain and pink eye. There is no vaccine or specific antiviral treatment. The illness is usually mild in adults, but there are concerns of the virus causing severe birth defects in babies who’s mothers were infected while pregnant.
“We are emphasizing that everyone has to do their part to reduce mosquito populations by eliminating potential breeding sites and by using personal protective measures,” said Donna Eberwine-Villagrán with the Pan American Health Organization in an e-mail to HLN. “It’s all about mosquito control at this point.”
Health officials are recommending that containers that can hold even small amounts of water such as buckets, flower pots or tires, should be emptied, cleaned or covered to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in them. Anyone living in or visiting areas with aedes mosquitoes should use insect repellent, and wear clothes that cover as much of the body as possible. The states that have the most prominent population of aedes mosquitoes are Georgia, Alabama and Florida.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a travel alert, warning pregnant women to avoid travel to the 21 countries where Zika is spreading. Most recently, the CDC added the Dominican Republic and the U.S. Virgin Islands to this list. Researchers at the National Institute of Health are working on a Zika vaccine.
The bottom line is that no one in the United States should panic yet. All of the cases that have been reported in the U.S. have been in individuals who recently traveled overseas. In Georgia, peak mosquito season is spring and summer. American Pest Control offers a mosquito reduction program that runs March through October. As long as you take steps to prevent mosquitoes and protect yourself from bites, you should be safe.