In 2016 it seemed as if Zika virus was front page news on a daily basis. It’s rapid spread across South and Central America followed by the first local transmissions in the U.S. put health experts and the public on high alert. Zika’s ability to cause serious birth defects when transmitted from mother to fetus was a major impetus in the global heath scare as well. But where is all the talk about Zika in 2017? From the lack of headlines about the virus this year, you might think that it’s no longer a concern. But that is far from true. Let’s take a look at the Zika virus situation, its health effects, and what’s being done about it.
As of August 16, 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that there have been a total of 5,415 cases of Zika in the U.S.. 224 of those were acquired locally via mosquitoes, and another 49 were acquired through sexual transmission, laboratory transmission, and other person-to-person routes. 203 cases have been reported in 2017, all of them acquired via travel. So there has certainly been a decrease in case count from 2016, which reported over 5,000 cases alone.
In addition to the normal Zika monitoring, there is also a pregnancy surveillance system in place across the country to quickly identify those most at risk of the damaging consequences of Zika; pregnant women and their babies. Between 2016 and 2017, 2,112 cases of Zika were reported via the Pregnancy Registry in the U.S.. 93 of those cases resulted in birth defects such as microcephaly, hearing loss, and other brain abnormalities.
Transmission, Symptoms, Testing, and Treatment of Zika
Zika is primarily transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito of the Aedes species. However, it can also be transmitted from mother to child during birth if the mother is infected during pregnancy. Zika can also be sexually transmitted during unprotected sex. There is still a lot to study in terms of how long Zika remains in the system after infection, but organizations such as the CDC are trying to get to the bottom of it.
The symptoms for Zika have not changed much from last year, but our understanding of them and how they should be tested have improved. Most people infected with Zika will experience mild to no symptoms whatsoever. Those experiencing symptoms could see fever, rash, headache, joint pain, red eyes, and muscle pain. These can last for up to a week as the virus usually remains in your blood for that long.
If you exhibit these symptoms, and especially if you have recently travelled to an area with Zika, consult your doctor about getting tested. Zika can be detected via blood or urine tests. Unfortunately, there is no treatment or vaccine for Zika virus at this time. The only thing to do is prevent infection or treat the symptoms once infected. This includes rest, drinking fluids, taking acetaminophen to reduce fever and pain, and protecting yourself against mosquito bites.
Since there is no treatment or vaccination for Zika, the best way to protect yourself against it is to avoid traveling to areas with a high risk of infection and to protect yourself against mosquito bites. The easiest ways to do the latter includes wearing long sleeves and pants outside, remove standing water from your property, removing debris or brush from your gutters, using effective mosquito repellants, and even using professional mosquito control services like Mosquito Joe.
There is plenty of other information about Zika, the ongoing research behind it, and ways to protect yourself against it on the CDC website. Zika may not be in the news as much this year, but it is still a dangerous disease without a cure. So why not take necessary precautions to protect yourself and your family? Mosquito Joe offers barrier spray services applied to your property every 21 days that eliminate mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks so you can enjoy your outdoor space and add a layer of defense to your arsenal against diseases like Zika and West Nile. Call your local Mosquito Joe today for a free quote and more information.