May 4, 2016
For More Information Contact
- Alex Samuel, MD
Piedmont Health District director
434-392-3984, ext. 131
(Farmville, Va.) – Mosquito season in Virginia starts May 1. So far, there have not been any cases in the U.S. where the Zika virus disease was contracted from local mosquitoes, but there is a risk of Zika being imported into Virginia. When the weather warms, mosquitoes arrive looking for a blood meal and could transmit a mosquito-borne illness such as Zika or West Nile virus.
Protect Against Mosquitoes
The best thing is to prevent mosquitoes around your home and neighborhood and protect yourself from their bites by taking the following steps:
- Eliminate standing water in your yard by tipping or tossing water from containers like tires, buckets, flower pots, drain pipes, tarps, bird, baths, toys, etc.
- Treat containers with a larvicide like Bacillus thuringiensis var. israelensis (follow label instructions) if you cannot tip them.
- Considering using insecticides on bushy green plants and other vegetation to control flying mosquitoes.
- Wear insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 (follow label instructions). When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breast-feeding women.
- Cover exposed skin by wearing light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and pants.
- Treat clothing with permethrin (do not apply to skin), which will remain protective after multiple washings.
- Keep windows and door screens in good repair to keep mosquitoes out.
Who is at Risk for Zika?
The most at-risk population are people traveling to Zika-affected regions, especially pregnant women. Infection with Zika during pregnancy is linked to birth defects in babies, including microcephaly (a condition in which a baby’s head is smaller than expected). Pregnant women are highly discouraged from traveling to Zika-infected regions (Central and South America and the Caribbean). Zika can also be spread from an infected man to his sex partners, though it’s uncertain how easily the virus is transmitted by sexual contact.
What Are the Symptoms of Zika?
Most people with Zika won’t even know they have it. The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week. The most common symptoms are: fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). If you suspect you may be infected with Zika, contact your medical practitioner, especially if pregnant. There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika, but once a person has been infected, they are likely to be protected from future infections.
How Can I Stay Informed?
The Virginia Department of Health has information about Zika: www.vdh.virginia.gov/epidemiology/zika-virus-update/