If you’ve listened to the news over the last few months, you know that the Zika virus is spreading rapidly. The World Health Organization has declared a public health emergency regarding the global pandemic of Zika. We’ve known for decades that other serious diseases are also spread through mosquito bites. So what should you do to protect yourself and your family from these preventable illnesses?
The primary transmitter of the Zika virus is the Aedes mosquito. This species of mosquito is known to be widespread and very challenging to control. That, combined with the modern ease of worldwide travel means that the Zika virus has rapidly spread to the United States. Doctors and researchers have established that the Zika virus is linked to microcephaly and other birth defects. There is currently no vaccine available.
In the Southeastern U.S., West Nile Virus and Chikungunya are commonly transmitted through mosquito bites. Chikungunya causes fever and severe pain; West Nile can cause fever, headaches, and flu-like body aches. See the CDC website for further information. Neither vaccines nor a cure is available for either illness. Therefore, prevention of mosquito-borne illnesses is key.
Everyone needs to learn how to protect themselves and their family members, especially during the warmer spring, summer, and fall months. The further south you live, the longer your mosquito season lasts. For personal protection, wear long sleeves and long pants and use insect repellent on exposed skin. Avoid being outside at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active. Make sure your window screens are in good condition with no holes and that your gutters are clear. Since all types of mosquitoes require water to hatch from eggs and grow into adults, eliminating standing water in your yard is one of the most important things you can do. Mosquito eggs and larvae only require a small amount of water to thrive, so be sure to dump out even smaller areas of standing water, such as flower pot trays. Change