Aside from causing skin irritation, mosquitos also transmit diseases, which include the Zika virus. As many countries have entered a state of emergency due to this virus, let’s take a closer look at the facts and how to prevent your home from vulnerability.
What is Zika Virus?
The Zika virus is caused by the bite of a female Aedes mosquito. A person infected with the Zika virus will experience fever, conjunctivitis, and muscle pain, among other symptoms. Because these symptoms are similar to other mosquito-related illnesses such as dengue, West Nile, and yellow fever, there are many cases that have gone unreported and undocumented.
The Zika virus was discovered in 1947 and was named after the Zika forest in Uganda where it was discovered. The first Zika cases among humans were recorded in 1952. Although the virus has remained in Africa, there has been sporadic outbreaks in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. Before 2007, there were 14 cases of Zika that had been discovered. In 2007, there was an epidemic in Micronesia where 75% of the island population of Yap were infected.
The Zika virus is considered a tropical infection that happens mostly in Africa, but recently it has made its presence felt in the Western Hemisphere. Tropical countries in the Americas have been infected. In 2014, Chile reported the presence of Zika virus on Easter Island, and in May of 2015, Brazil reported its first case. Just last month, the World Health Organization declared the Zika virus as a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC).
Mosquitos Transmitting Zika
The Zika virus is carried by an infected female Aedes mosquito, which is the same mosquito that causes dengue and chikungunya. This type of mosquito thrives in a pool of water and bites during the day. Other mosquitoes known to transmit the Zika virus are the yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti) which is located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, and the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus), which can be found in New York and Chicago.
The following symptoms can be observed in a victim of the Zika virus for 2 to 7 days:
- Exanthema (rashes)
- Mild fever
- Joint pains
Although people rarely die from the Zika virus, there has been growing concerns that there is a correlation between the Zika virus and microcephaly, a birth defect that results in shrunken heads and brain damage among infants after the infection has been passed from the infected pregnant mother to the unborn fetus.
In order to properly diagnose Zika in a person, the doctor will conduct a physical exam and will ask a suspected patient for any recent travels to countries where there have been known Zika outbreaks. Blood tests will also be done in order to isolate Zika from other similar infections such as dengue and Chikungunya.
There is no vaccine that can prevent or treat the Zika virus, although a vaccine could be ready for clinical trials later this year. If infected, a person can treat only the symptoms, which will run their course and go away on their own after a week. To treat symptoms, a patient is advised to have plenty of rest and increase water intake to avoid dehydration. Paracetamol can be taken if feeling feverish, but aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammation medicines are discouraged until dengue has been ruled out of the diagnosis because of the hemorrhage risk. Pregnant women who have been diagnosed with the Zika virus are advised to closely monitor the fetal growth of their unborn child.
The Zika virus is transmitted through infected mosquito bites. However, there have been reported cases of infection through sexual contact. The virus can also be transferred from mother to fetus, where microcephaly occurs. Other transmission methods can also come from a blood transfusion and an organ transplant.
There has been a lot of conspiracy theories floating around regarding this infection. Some blame the spread on the release of genetically modified mosquitos in Brazil that were supposed to be created by the British biotechnology company Oxitec to control the outbreak and spread of dengue fever. Others claim that the release of the GM mosquitos was to perform some sort of ethnic cleaning or population control in Brazil. However, no correlation has been proven.
In order to prevent the spread of the Zika virus, one needs to eliminate the breeding sites of mosquitos. To do this, check your house for containers that can possibly hold standing water such as bottles, flower pots, water tanks, and roof gutters. Install screens in your windows and doors, wear light-colored and long-sleeved shirts, pants and other protective clothes, and put on insect repellent lotions and sprays.
Pyriproxyfen Mosquito Control Considered Relatively Safe
Pyriproxyfen is an insecticide used to kill household pests such as mosquitos and cockroaches, as well as ticks and fleas in pets. Another rumor spreading is that Pyriproxyfen was the reason behind the resurgence of microcephaly cases, although health experts disagree with this and have said that this insecticide is relatively safe to use.
With the growing spread of the Zika virus, it is important now more than ever to ensure that our homes are free from mosquitoes. This can be done through constant vigilance against stagnant or standing water in our homes, as well as employing the services of a professional pest control company to ensure your home is protected. Contact us today to learn how to protect your home!
Filed in: Mosquito Control