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How Will Zika Virus Affect South Florida Residents?

a zika infested mosquito biting a persons arm in lake worth florida

Living here in Florida, we've had to put up with a lot of unsavory creatures. Our state is, without a doubt, a melting pot of exotic animals and bugs. And let's face it, this has always presented a challenge for home and business owners. Residents must know which snakes to stay away from and which caterpillars should never be touched. Business owners need to make sure tourists know what areas are safe, and which are not. Yet, despite the dangers, people keep coming. So, what does Zika mean for South Florida? Will it be just another danger we put up with, or might it be something more?

  • The most obvious way that Zika will affect South Florida residents is that it is a virus that can cause microcephaly. This is a congenital birth defect that is characterized by a smallness of head and incomplete brain development. In late pregnancy, it can create a risk for a chronic seizure condition. These kinds of birth defects can bring lifelong complications and heartache.

  • In countries with outbreaks of Zika, there has been a twenty-fold increase in the risk of Guillain-Barre syndrome. This is an uncommon sickness of the nervous system in which a person's own immune system damages the nerve cells, causing muscle weakness and, sometimes, paralysis.

  • Zika virus produces symptoms in less than 80% of those who contract the virus. This allows for carriers to be out and about where mosquitoes can pick it up and spread it.

  • For most people, Zika virus will cause minor symptoms, such as fever, skin rash, muscle and joint pain, and conjunctivitis. These symptoms aren't likely to keep Floridians inside.

  • Zika virus doesn't stay in the system long. It will usually leave the bloodstream in under two weeks. This is good and bad. While it is good for anyone who wants to be sure their system is clear before attempting to conceive a child, it is another contributing factor for the spread of this disease, in that non-pregnant woman will be added to the sea of possible carriers from which this disease can be picked up by mosquitoes.

  • There are many conditions in Florida that allow Zika to spread quickly: people wearing less clothing, high humidity, high temperatures, and high tourism.

  • As more local cases of Zika are reported, it may cause a decrease in tourism. The CDC has already given a travel warning for Miami-Dade county. These warnings will continue to grow as the outbreak spreads.

  • Tourism businesses will not be the only businesses impacted by Zika. This virus may also prevent residents from going out to local businesses. Some businesses are combating this by posting signs that describe the measures they are taking to reduce mosquitoes and keep them away.

How Do South Florida Residents Protect Themselves?

Preventing mosquito bites is the best way to slow the spread of the Zika virus. Here are some tips:

  • Wear repellent. This is the single best way to prevent mosquito bites. Use a repellent that has DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 in it. If you do not want to put chemicals on your skin, consider spraying them on your clothing, or using a natural repellent like oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol.

  • Cover up. Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants can reduce the amount of skin that is available for mosquitoes to bite. Be aware that mosquitoes can bite through some thinner fabrics.

  • Keep mosquitoes outside. It is important to stay in places that are air conditioned and protected by door and window screens.

  • Netting. If you are in a place where mosquitoes can't be adequately kept out, sleep with a mosquito net over your bed.

  • Don't travel to an area where Zika is localized. Be aware that traveling to an area where Zika is locally transmitted increases your risk of contracting the disease.

  • Be aware that Zika is transmitted through sexual contact. Consider refraining from intimate contact with anyone who has been to an area where Zika is localized for at least two weeks.

  • Get mosquito reduction services for your property. This is the frontline defense government agencies use to slow the spread of contagious mosquito-borne viruses.

If you need help protecting your home or your property from mosquitoes in South Florida, call for a free inspection from Nozzle Nolen. We will assess your property and offer options that are available for control and reduction.

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