Avoiding the Zika Virus in the US – What You Need to Know


zika-virus

Even if it isn’t currently making many news headlines, the Zika virus is still around. Some progress has been made in controlling its invasion of the US, but it is still a cause for concern. Cases and symptoms have been reported in every US state, although mosquito-borne Zika is most problematic in southern Florida and Puerto Rico. Several other states and communities are alert and watching cases and mosquito populations.

You need the latest on the Zika virus so you can be as prepared and protected as possible to keep mosquitoes at bay.

Zika Transmission

There are four ways in which Zika can be transmitted.

  • Mosquitoes. They are the main carriers.
  • In-utero. It’s still rare in the US, but there have been cases where Zika has been transmitted from mother to baby during pregnancy, often resulting in birth defects.
  • Blood transmission. The virus can be transmitted through blood contamination – like via mosquitoes – but there is no evidence of casual contact transmission and there have been no confirmed cases of transmission through blood transfusion in the US. American blood programs screen all donations for Zika.
  • Sexual contact. Zika can be present in semen and vaginal fluids, even if a person displays no symptoms.

There is no evidence of the Zika virus being transmitted through breastfeeding, despite any unfounded rumors to the contrary.

Florida: The US Frontline

As the frontline in the fight against Zika’s spread, Florida offers the latest news about the Zika virus by issuing almost daily briefs. Fortunately, confirmed cases in southern Florida are few and far between, although every precaution must still be taken. Puerto Rico, Mexico, Central America and South America are popular travel destinations for Americans and thus Florida and other major entry points monitor the situation closely.

In addition, Florida has taken to spraying pesticides over large swaths of territory in a bid to quell mosquito swarms.

Symptoms – You Don’t Need to Show Any to Be Carrying Zika

Many people infected with the Zika virus display no symptoms. As a result, they can aid its spread (as can happen with many other viruses, including influenza).

Symptoms usually include a mild febrile illness that causes high temperature, chills, sweats, shivering, and general weakness.

Zika is especially hazardous to pregnant women as it can be passed to their unborn children and result in congenital malformations.

Protection and Prevention

It’s best not to put all your faith in aerial spraying of insecticides to keep Zika-carrying mosquitoes away. The insects can carry other problems like West Nile virus

Many people react poorly to pesticides and also to repellents applied to the skin. There are other important protective steps you can take that can avoid the health hazards of DEET-based repellents:

  • Remove standing water (mosquito breeding ground) from your property, especially by improving drainage.
  • Wear natural fiber clothing that covers your arms and legs, especially at night.
  • Plant outdoor gardens of marigolds, citronella, lemon balm, basil, lavender and catnip.
  • Spray your lawn, garden and patio with an all-natural mosquito repelling formula that also keeps away other biting insects and is so non-toxic it doesn’t even need EPA approval. Look for safe ingredients like citronella, lemongrass oil, thyme oil, garlic oil and cedar oil.

Traveling Overseas

Before you go, check travel advisories about Zika. Sometimes it’s best not to travel at all - for your sake and for the sake of others on your return.

Above all, if you live in Florida or other areas of the deep south, stay up to date with the latest on the Zika virus and stay protected.

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