As a mosquito control expert, Mosquito Joe is making an effort to provide continuously updated information about the ongoing Zika virus situation in the U.S. and around the world. Our Zika Virus Information Page contains more details about the mosquito-borne illness, but there are many other updates to do with transmission, areas where the virus is spreading, available resources, and scientific research that are important to disperse as well. We encourage you to check our blog continuously along with our website and Facebook page for the most current information about Zika virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses.
First Locally Transmitted Cases
As of August 1, 2016, 14 cases of locally-transmitted Zika virus have been confirmed, all within a 1-square-mile radius north of downtown Miami. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are coordinating with Florida state health officials to provide funding, mosquito control, and response efforts. Six of the confirmed cases showed no outward signs of Zika and were identified through door-to-door community surveys through the Department of Health. A travel advisory is expected for pregnant women or those thinking of becoming pregnant to avoid this specific area in Miami. Florida Governor Rick Scott has also requested the CDC to enact an emergency response team to help officials in the area respond to and control the outbreak.
Zika Virus Stats
As of July 27, 2016, there are 1,657 reported travel-associated cases of Zika virus in the U.S. 15 were sexually transmitted, and 5 resulted in the birth defect disorder Guillain-Barré syndrome. In total 47 states have reported cases of Zika, with New York (449 cases) and Florida (307 cases) having the most occurrences.
The symptoms of Zika virus remain the same: fever, joint pain, rash, and conjunctivitis although most people infected with Zika will not show any symptoms at all. An infection can be confirmed via blood or urine test, so contact your doctor if you have any questions or concerns. There is still no vaccine or medication to treat Zika virus, so doctors recommend plenty of fluid and rest.
Response to Zika
Now that Zika virus is in the U.S. and there appears to be no hope of a nationwide response from the federal government, what can local and state health officials do to be prepared? Luckily, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published dozens of resources for health professionals to consult to prepare for and deal with a local transmission of Zika virus.
- CDC Interim Response Plan – This document outlines the CDC’s response plan to the first locally transmitted cases of Zika in the U.S. It includes protocol for professionals to follow after confirming cases, specific definitions for what a Zika transmission area is, and a timeline for communicating with the public about the situation.
- Top 10 Zika Response Tips – Many areas of the country will have to deal with travel-associated Zika cases if not locally transmitted ones as well. The CDC has assembled this webpage to support health and emergency professionals in response to the situation with tips, links to resources, and action items.
- Zika Communication Planning Guide – Perhaps most important in dealing with Zika virus, is effective communication with the public. The CDC has developed its own communication plan for states to use that includes key messages about the health risks and effects of Zika. Among the resources are fact sheets, infographics, videos, Zika prevention kits, digital press kit, and more!
Pregnancy and the Zika Virus
There has been a lot of research over the past few months to better understand how Zika virus affects pregnant women and their babies. The CDC now has suggested timeframes for waiting to get pregnant after possible exposure to Zika. Women displaying Zika symptoms should wait at least 8 weeks after symptoms start, and men displaying symptoms should wait at least 6 months. Whether trying to get pregnant or not, women should consult their healthcare provider on best practices for pregnancy planning and/or prevention.
Recent developments have proven there is still much to be learned about Zika virus and its effects. The upcoming Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil are a source of concern as hundreds of thousands of people will travel to a highly affected area, potentially ramping the spread of the virus. The World Health Organization says there is a low risk of individuals contracting and spreading Zika at the Olympics due to it taking place during Brazil’s winter months when the mosquito population is at its lowest. Regardless, the health community is still on high-alert because of the uncertainty around Zika’s transmission and endurance.
While we are not health experts, we are experts in mosquito control, and we feel it is part of our job and contribution to the larger community to provide these updates on a potentially very dangerous situation. Please call your local Mosquito Joe to find out how we can provide you with an added layer of defense against mosquito-borne illnesses like Zika virus. And as always, check back for new information as the situation develops.