For the first time in the Western Hemisphere, researchers have detected the Zika virus in Aedes albopictus, the mosquito species known as the “Asian tiger,” a finding that increases the number of U.S. states potentially at risk for transmission of the disease.
“There is growing concern about Zika in U.S., so it’s important to stay informed,” says Chase Hillenmeyer with Mosquito Authority in Central Kentucky. “With any mosquito-borne disease, we can take certain actions to control mosquitoes and reduce the risk of spreading the viruses they carry.”
So, what do Kentuckians need to know about Zika? Here are 5 key facts:
- ZIKA is smart. The first case of the virus to be reported in the United States was sexually-transmitted, confirming it can be passed from person to person via sexual activity. The majority of cases have been contracted by travelers to Zika-affected areas who were bitten by a mosquito with the virus. “Unfortunately, there is a lot that is unknown about Zika,” says Hillenmeyer. “For example, it still isn’t clear how many types of mosquitoes carry it or what kinds of complications it can cause. A primary concern is its confirmed connection to newborns with microcephaly, a birth defect that causes abnormally-small heads and brains.”
- Women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant should be extra careful. Because of its link to microcephaly, pregnant women have been advised by the Centers for Disease Control not to travel to Zika-affected areas. Because the virus can be sexually-transmitted, men who have traveled to areas where Zika is prevalent should use condoms or abstain from sex. Women in Brazil have been advised not to get pregnant, if possible.
- Travel can be dangerous. Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean Islands and much of South America have been identified as Zika-affected areas. Pregnant women have been advised not to travel to these areas at all. Other people traveling to these areas should take great care to prevent mosquito bites.
- There is no treatment or cure. Prevention is key. “Remember: Drain, Dress, Defend,” advises Hillenmeyer. “Remove standing water, wear long sleeves and long pants, and use repellent.”
- It’s not the only threat… Mosquitoes transmit many other diseases that impact the United States directly. West Nile, Eastern Equine Encephalitis and Dengue are just a few examples of diseases that cause permanent disabilities, and even death, right here in our own backyards each and every year.
“Mosquito Authority has set up an informational Web site, StopZika.org, dedicated to raising awareness about Zika and passing along all the most important information about the virus as new developments arise, “ Hillenmeyer says.
For current information about the Zika virus and its implications for the United States, as well as a list of resources from world health organizations, please visit StopZika.org.
For information on residential and commercial mosquito control in Central Kentucky, please call (859) 757-2222 or visit The Mosquito Authority.