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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!

Copyright © 2016  A3GR31WPP4NY8Z CC-BY-SA-4.0


[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

Categories
insects mosquitos

What can you do to protect yourself against the Zika virus?

Protecting yourself from the Zika virus

 

What is the Zika virus?

 

The Zika virus is a kind of disease bringing virus that is similar to dengue and chikungunya viruses, and likewise as these other viruses it is mostly and principally spread by certain species of mosquitoes when they bite you. Although Zika is a disease with mild symptoms that usually last for only a few days, like a rash in certain parts of your body, a relatively mild fever, some joint pain, and maybe conjunctivitis (red eyes), and it is even also possible to have been infected and not present any of these symptoms, yet the real danger of this disease presents itself when a pregnant woman gets infected, as a connection has been found between Zika infected pregnant women and microcephaly (smaller than normal brain size) in their newborns. Zika, unlike other mosquito borne viruses, can apparently also be transmitted through sexual contact between a Zika infected man and his female partner.

 

How do you prevent getting infected with Zika?

 

Since the main transmission methods are mosquitoes, and also since there are no known vaccines to the virus, the way to protect yourself from getting infected with the Zika virus is to avoid getting bit by mosquitoes in general, specially if you are living or staying within an area that is known to have ongoing Zika infections. There are a few well known strategies and methods to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, and they can be combined in order to achieve maximum success at avoiding bites. The first and simplest method is to wear long sleeved shirts and long pants while outdoors or while in areas where mosquitoes thrive. Also by staying in air conditioned areas, or rooms protected with mosquito screens on all windows and doors, most mosquito bites can be avoided. If you are sleeping outdoors or in a place without proper mosquito screening then sleeping under a mosquito netting will be your best option. If this isn’t possible, or while staying outdoors, then you should be using some form of approved mosquito repellant on your clothes and exposed skin areas or also on the bed sheets if possible. Buying and using permethrin (which is an effective kind of insecticide against mosquitoes) treated clothing and other gear may also be something to consider, or maybe treating clothes and gear yourself with permethrin.

 

Taking steps to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in or close to your home is also a way to prevent Zika and other mosquito borne infections. Eliminating stagnant pools of water, or getting rid of places or objects where rain water could be pooling and where mosquitoes could be breeding, for example, is a smart move. Any other steps taken to control mosquito populations in and around your house would be advisable as well, and a quick web search will show you quite a few ways to help you on that issue.

 

Another thing to avoid getting infected with Zika virus in the case of sexual intercourse with a man that has been infected by Zika virus in the previous few weeks, is to use a condom in any case of vaginal, anal or oral sex with them.

 

Something that smart and responsible people should do if infected with Zika virus, is to also avoid being bitten by mosquitoes for a few weeks after the infection onset in order to avoid infecting other mosquitoes with the virus and in this way helping to avoid the spread of the disease.

 

Daniel Barsa

This document is licensed for commercial use with modification.

Categories
disease insects mosquitos zika virus

How Serious is the Zika Virus?

I have never heard of this virus before it became popular on the news. Actually, my mother may have warned me about it, but that was awhile ago and since then, I have heard nothing about the virus.

However, judging from the side effects alone, the zika virus seems pretty serious.

  • There is a fever accompanied by a rash,
  • joint pain and
  • red eyes, and
  • there is no vaccine or medicine to remedy this virus!

Although sufferers will very rarely die from the virus, most people are not sick enough to go to the hospital and will usually be bedridden for about a week.

If you are pregnant the virus can cause severe birth defects and cause the child to develop microcephaly. Microcephaly is where the child’s head does not develop fully and is left disproportionately smaller than the rest of the body and can lead to seizures, intellectual disabilities, feeding problems, hearing loss, et cetera. Considering the severity to pregnant women, the zika virus is dangerous, leaving children with permanent damage to their brains and development. When the virus is passed from mother to child, it can be contracted through numerous ways.

A mosquito bite seems to be the most common way to contract the virus, as well as through:

  • sexual contact,
  • blood transfusion and
  • laboratory exposure.

The most affected area is Brazil with thousands of people getting infected and many pregnant women baring babies with microcephaly. Interestingly enough, the first child in North America was born with microcephaly after the mother contracted the zika virus. So it is indeed spreading.

There are ways you can prevent the zika virus from reaching you though. It is recommended to:

  • wear clothing that covers your body,
  • apply insect repellent regularly,
  • if you do not need to go outside, don’t,
  • stay inside in the air conditioning,
  • sleep under a mosquito net if you have one and
  • avoid traveling to areas where cases of the zika virus have been reported.

Although there have not been a large amount of reports in North America of the zika virus, it still could make it’s way across the globe and infect many people. On the other hand, it could just be like the swine flu and die down by next year while pharmaceutical companies try to come up with a vaccine to prevent the zika virus and make some quick cash. The only difference is that pregnant women and their children seem to suffer the most. I suppose we will see in the coming months.

Copyright © 2016  A8IOIK43S8V1N CC-BY-SA-4.0