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What is the Zika Virus?

August 23, 2016

mosquito with zika virus in west palm beach fl

The Zika virus is a mosquito-born virus that has recently seen outbreaks in South and Central America and is spreading north. There are now 43 cases of Zika victims who were bitten by a domestic mosquito in the U.S., and all but one of those cases are found in South Florida.  

The gulf coast has the highest risk of transmission as the virus is spreading north from Central America. The Zika virus is a growing pandemic, so it is best to take the proper precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.

Is the virus dangerous?

There has rarely been any reports of deaths caused by the virus. Symptoms of the virus include: fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, and skin rashes. People who have contracted the virus will experience a brief flu-like illness known to last 2-7 days. 80% of people with the virus never actually experience any symptoms.

Although there is no proven danger to adults, the virus is known to cause a birth defect during pregnancy known as microcephaly. Microcephaly causes the fetus in a pregnant woman to develop an undersized head and brain. Right now, there are no known vaccines for the Zika virus.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued travel alerts to everyone traveling to the affected areas. The White House has also emphasized the need to research the virus and find a vaccine.

What’s the best way to prevent contracting the virus?

Since the virus is carried by mosquitoes, standard mosquito abatement practices apply:

  1. Eliminate ALL standing water in and around your yard.

    Mosquitoes breed in standing water. The more standing water around your house, the more mosquitoes you will see. Flower pots and basins, tires in your yard, buckets on your driveway, and even bromeliads can collect water that mosquitoes will gladly breed in.
  2. Avoid peak hours. 

    Limit your time outdoors to the mornings and afternoons. Peak mosquito hours are from dusk ‘til dawn. Those are the times that the mosquitoes are the most active.
  3. Wear protective clothing. Use repellants. 

    If you are planning on being outdoors during peak mosquito hours, it’s best to protect yourself. Wear long sleeves and long pants. Also use a mosquito repellent. Preferably one that contains at least 20% DEET or Picaridin (just as effective as DEET, but odorless).
  4. Get pest control. 

    A pest professional could provide you with an ongoing Mosquito Abatement service that would treat the mosquito resting areas (shrubs and bushes), any nearby pond, and take an IPM approach to getting rid of problem areas conducive to mosquito breeding.


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