In southern Florida, 2016 was a big year for Zika virus, but 2017 could be even worse. The first locally transmitted cases were reported in July 2016, and the numbers have increased steadily. Health officials are concerned that the mild winter will give mosquito populations a chance to flourish and infect new victims. Confirmed cases are expected to rise exponentially due to a number of active infections among U.S. residents and continued travel to these destinations.
- Puerto Rico
- Central America
- South America
- The Caribbean
- The Pacific Islands
On August 1, 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued red-zone warnings covering Miami Beach and Miami’s popular Wynwood neighborhood. Florida is the only state where locally transmitted cases have been detected. Miami-Dade has been hit hardest with nearly 200 domestic cases. Palm Beach, Pinellas and Broward counties were also affected. After aggressive mosquito control programs, experts stated that Wynwood was free from Zika as of September 2016. However, another Miami neighborhood became a red zone just weeks later.
Experts say that Zika will follow the same pattern as West Nile virus and chikungunya. These exotic diseases were once rare, but they have gradually become a regular part of life. As history has shown, once the disease is here, it’s almost impossible to eradicate. In fact, the same mosquitoes that transmit dengue fever and chikungunya also carry Zika. The yellow fever mosquito and the Asian tiger mosquito transmit numerous blood-borne diseases. They are active during the day and at night, so they are difficult to avoid.
Zika and Pregnant Women
Although anyone can be infected by Zika, the disease poses the greatest risk for expectant mothers. Testing has become a high priority. The government has urged all pregnant women who live in Miami-Dade County or who have visited the area to be tested since Zika is linked to severe fetal brain defects. There’s also concern about transmission from partners who have traveled to Miami within six months.
Signs of Zika
Symptoms usually develop two weeks after infection. The most common signs include fever, soreness, rash, headache and eye irritation. However, some people don’t display any symptoms. Because it’s a virus, there’s no way to treat Zika, and a vaccine has yet to be developed.
No one knows what type of long-term effects the disease could have. There’s still uncertainty about who is most likely to contract the illness. Right now, it’s wise to postpone travel to high-risk areas. You should also wear long-sleeved clothing, use insect repellants and remove mosquito breeding grounds on your property.
If you are concerned about protecting your family from Zika and other mosquito-borne illnesses, contact MosquitoNix of South Florida. We offer a range of misting systems and treatment programs.