The Zika virus was discovered many years ago. Until recently it was primarily found in the South American and Pacific Island regions. In 2015, more incidences of Zika infections began appearing in other regions, including Asian and African territories and North America. Understanding the virus and how it spreads can help in Zika protection efforts.
Where It Comes From
Zika is a virus that is classified in the same species as West Nile, yellow fever, and dengue fever. It is commonly spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. These mosquitos, a species called Aedes aegypti, are active primarily during the daytime hours. As with other mosquito breeds, the females must consume blood for egg laying and therefore are the main carriers. In recent years, other mosquito species have been identified as carriers as well.
In addition to transmission by mosquitos, a person can be infected by another person carrying the Zika virus. Studies have shown that transmission can also occur through exposure with body fluids. Infected pregnant women can also transmit the virus to their unborn children.
Zika Virus Symptoms
Symptoms of a Zika infection mirror those of the common flu. Sufferers can experience body aches, fever, headache, and joint pains. Some people do not experience any symptoms at all. Unborn children exposed to the virus in utero can suffer from brain damage and other problems.
Zika Prevention Efforts
Despite the potential dangers the Zika virus provides, there are simple prevention methods. While there is currently no vaccine available, prevention helps avoid rapid transmission throughout countries. The first effort is to be diligent about avoiding mosquito bites. This can be done by wearing pants and shirts with long sleeves, using repellents, and utilizing screens for open windows and doors.
Standing water presents an ample breeding ground for mosquitos of any species. Empty any containers that collect water, even in the slightest amount. Search everywhere around the outside of the home. Check drain spouts, flower pot bases and rims, and outdoor toys.
After eliminating breeding grounds, it can take up to two weeks for mosquito activity to subside. This is the standard life cycle period of mosquitos. If, after this time period, mosquitos are still very active, a pest control company can treat the yard and areas surrounding the home. Many communities opt to have systematic treatments that cover multiple areas where people live and work.
Avoid traveling to countries with higher outbreak incidences, such as many countries in South American, Africa, and Asia. If travel to these areas is unavoidable, rely on repellents, long clothing, and mosquito netting as much as possible – day or night. Also, avoid contact with infected individuals whenever possible.