The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne illness, spread mainly through mosquito bites from Zika-infected mosquitoes. The primary species of mosquitoes that transmit this disease are the Aedes species mosquito (Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus), otherwise known as the Asian Tiger Mosquito. This is the same mosquito that spreads the dengue fever and yellow fever. Zika can also be transmitted from between humans through unprotected sex or from a pregnant woman to her unborn child.
Zika is predominantly found in Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. Recent outbreaks have occurred in the Americas, especially Brazil and Northeast South America, the Caribbean, and Mexico. It was first discovered in the Zika Forest in Uganda and in 1952, the first cases of Zika in humans were documented.
Zika virus started making headlines in the United States in 2016 after there was an outbreak in South America that spread to our country via infected travelers. At its peak there were 5,168 cases of Zika reported across the country, but the majority of them (4,897) were in travelers who had returned from affected areas. In 2017, cases of Zika in the U.S. dropped to 433. As of March 21st, 2018, there have only been 12 cases reported in the United States. (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.) All cases were in travelers returning from affected areas.
While the Asian Tiger mosquito can be found across the United States, the risk of mosquito-transmitted Zika in South Carolina are very low. According to the South Carolina Department of Environmental Health and Control, there have not been any cases of Zika in our state in 2018, but that’s not to say it doesn’t exist — it means nothing has been officially reported. In 2016, the CDC considered Brownsville, Texas and Miami Dade County, Florida as higher risk areas and issued official travel precautions to people traveling to those areas, but in the summer of 2017 those travel precautions were lifted.
Many people infected with Zika won’t have symptoms or will only have mild symptoms. The most common symptoms are fever, rash, headache, joint pain, red eyes, and muscle pain. Symptoms can last for several days to a week. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika. Once a person has been infected with Zika, they are likely to be protected from future infections.
Where Zika becomes more dangerous is in pregnant women. A mother infected with Zika virus can pass it to the fetus, and there has been a link between being infected with Zika while pregnant and babies born with a condition called microcephaly, which is an abnormal smallness of a baby’s head. This has the potential to lead to severe brain damage, along with seizures, intellectual disability, hearing, and vision loss. There have also been other links to other problems, such as miscarriage, stillbirth and other birth defects. There have also been increased reports of Guillain-Barré Syndrome, an uncommon sickness of the nervous system, in areas affected by Zika.
Unfortunately, there is no specific medicine or vaccine for Zika. It is best treated by treating the symptoms, and getting plenty of rest, drinking lots of fluids to prevent dehydration, and taking medicine such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) to reduce pain and fever.
If you are traveling outside the United States, check the CDC’s travel information website for the most up-to-date information and precautions regarding Zika in your destination. Unfortunately, most travelers don’t think to do this and there is always a chance of travelers returning from areas with high risk of Zika to bring it back to the United States, and thus increasing the chance of another outbreak.
With no known vaccine or specific treatment for the Zika virus, the best way to protect your family from Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases is to prevent exposure to mosquitoes and mosquito bites. Mosquito Squad’s barrier control treatment can eliminate up to 90% of mosquitoes from your property for three weeks straight. Sign up for a seasonal package and our professionals will treat your property all season long, so you can rest assured your family and pets are protected. In addition to our barrier treatment, we also offer automatic misting systems that release our formula at designated intervals for 30 seconds at a time (or a the push of a button with the included remote control).
Call Mosquito Squad of Myrtle Beach today at (843) 492-0925 or drop us a line via the contact form on our home page to take back your yard while protecting your family from mosquitoes and the potentially dangerous illnesses they carry. They’re too precious not to protect!
Asian Tiger Mosquito