Mosquito Bites and the Zika Virus
Families throughout the US are concerned about recent headlines regarding mosquito bites and the Zika Virus. Carried by the Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus mosquitos, the Zika virus was first identified in Central Africa before it spread to the Americas and South Pacific. As of November 30 2016, the United States has seen 4,495 cases of Zika with almost a thousand documented in the state of Florida alone.
Zika Virus Symptoms
For many people, the Zika virus causes fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (pink eye). Symptoms are mild and can last anywhere from a few days to several months. Some people are asymptomatic and show no signs when they have contracted the virus.
Many cases are thought to go unreported because the symptoms aren’t considered severe enough for the afflicted person to seek medical treatment.
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Dangers of Mosquito Bites and the Zika Virus
Signs of infection often begin with a headache and may progress to include joint and muscle pain. Symptoms usually appear about two weeks after infection. There is no treatment save for hydration, resting, and acetaminophen (Tylenol®) until the infection runs its course.Medical researchers believe that some cases of Zika can cause damage to nerve cells, resulting in an autoimmune condition known as Guillain-Barré syndrome. Muscle weakness is a common symptom but paralysis and death can occur in rare cases.
Zika Virus and Fetal Development
The Zika virus is more dangerous for pregnant women because it can cause birth defects in unborn children, microcephaly is the most common of these. This condition causes abnormally small heads and developmental delays. Infection with the Zika virus can lead to miscarriage and stillbirth. However, the majority of women infected with the virus go on to have normal pregnancies and births.
The best way to avoid contracting the Zika virus is to avoid mosquito bites. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has published travel advisories for areas where the virus has been reported. Reducing potential mosquito breeding sites and harborage is also recommended. A qualified pest management professional will be able to provide more insight as to what you can do around a home to help discourage mosquitoes. In places known to have incidences of mosquito bites and Zika Virus infections, people are advised to stay indoors and use air conditioning. If venturing outside is unavoidable using EPA-approved insect repellents on skin and clothing is advisable.