Zika virus has officially reached the United States, but there is a lot of conflicting information surrounding it. This poses a problem, particularly for pregnant women and families who want to be as prepared as possible this summer. In light of this, we have researched and compiled the ultimate Zika virus resource for South Florida residents to help you stay safe and protected this summer.
First, it’s important to know what exactly the virus is. Zika virus is a virus transmitted via the bite of an infected mosquito, which means the virus is immediately present in the bloodstream. Once a person is infected, it can be transmitted through sexual contact as well. The majority of adults and children who become infected by the virus do not display any symptoms, though the disease will remain in their bloodstream for about a week or two. Those that do experience symptoms report fever, fatigue, rash, joint pain, headache, muscle pain and conjunctivitis, or pinkeye. The illness is generally mild and runs its course through several days, much like the flu. The CDC has also noted that once a person has been infected with the virus, they are likely to be protected from future infections.
Zika virus has become a source of anxiety for many expecting mothers in the United States, especially in the South Florida area where the tropical climate is just right for mosquito breeding. Much of this anxiety comes from simply not knowing the full extent of how Zika can affect a developing fetus. While government agencies have not yet discovered all of the potential effects of the virus, there are a few things they know for sure.
An article from the BBC says that the CDC has confirmed the link between birth defects and Zika. Researchers have proven that the cases of babies born with microcephaly reported in Brazil last year were caused by Zika. Other serious birth defects have been reported as well. However, there were also mothers that were exposed to Zika that gave birth to healthy babies. Additionally, they do not believe that women who are exposed to Zika before becoming pregnant are at risk of their babies developing birth defects. More research is being done to determine how Zika affects a developing fetus.
Because there is no vaccine against Zika, the best protection is prevention.
The best way to stay safe this summer is to take extra precautions. South Florida’s humid climate, combined with the frequent thunderstorms in the summer, creates a perfect breeding ground for the Aedes mosquitoes that carry the virus. Here are a few tips that will help minimize the risk of mosquito bites this season.
Remove standing water. Aedes mosquitoes cannot fly very far, so they must stay close to humans to survive. This means they will breed in even the smallest amount of stagnant water, so be sure the area around your home is dry.
Plant the right shrubs. Lemongrass, eucalyptus, catnip and geraniums all contain mosquito-repelling compounds.
Keep repellent on hand. Never go outside without using an EPA-registered insect repellent. These repellents are safe for pregnant women and children.
Wear loose, protective clothing and keep perfumes to a minimum.
One final important step you can take is to have your yard and home outfitted with a custom, MosquitoNix treatment system. MosquitoNix offers quick treatments for temporary mosquito control as well as permanent misting systems that will keep your property mosquito-free all season long. Call or email MosquitoNix to schedule a free consultation and stay Zika-free this summer.