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insects mosquitos

What Texans Need To Know About The Zika Virus

According to the CDC[1], as of June 22nd of 2016, US States have reported up to 820 cases of infection by the Zika virus including 42 for Texas alone. If you still don’t know, Zika is a virus that spreads via bites of infected mosquitoes, specifically the Aedes mosquito, to humans, though an infected person can also pass it on sexually. It can trigger Guillain-Barré syndrome in adults and, most heartbreakingly, it can cause severe fetal brain defects leading to microcephaly if contracted during pregnancy.

Fortunately, all of the cases reported so far for the States fall under the ‘Travel-Associated’ category and none have been reported as ‘Locally-Acquired’. But, there are signs of looming trouble ahead. With unusually warm weather and alarming rate of spread of the Zika virus, it is only a question of when and not if Zika carrying mosquitoes will invade the States. Both NASA[2] and CDC[3] have released maps showing this to happen as soon as July this year:

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Figure 1: Zika Risk Assessment map by NASA

        So, how can we protect ourselves from this impending invasion? By listening to and acting upon the advice by CDC[4] as it is actively monitoring the situation. According to the CDC, the first order of protection is to prevent oneself from mosquito bites by:

  • wearing full-coverage clothing preferably treated with permethrin
  • staying indoors unless necessary to go outside especially during early morning and evening
  • using Screens and Mosquito Netting to prevent mosquitoes entering the house
  • using EPA-registered insect repellents and pesticides such as DEET, Picaridin and IR3535
  • drying out pools of stagnant and/or dirty water or covering the top with oil
  • keeping pools and household reservoirs of fresh water covered as Aedes mosquitoes breed in freshwater
  • getting professional pest control to help identify and rectify often overlooked areas

If, God forbid, one is infected with Zika[5], one should be on the lookout for common symptoms including fever, rash, joint pain and/or conjunctivitis and should consult a doctor immediately and follow the doctor’s advice. Usually, the illness is mild and might resolve in a week, but, vulnerable people with compromised immune systems and pregnant women should take special care including postponing traveling to areas known to harbour the Aedes mosquito.

Therefore, only with constant vigilance and constant effort we can protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities from this horrible menace. May God bless us and spare us all!

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[1] http://www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/united-states.html retrieved on 28th June, 2016

[5] https://www.cdc.gov/zika/symptoms/index.html retrieved on 28th June, 2016