The Zika forest is in Uganda and is the namesake of the virus that took the media by storm in January and February this year. While much of the world has already dealt with Zika in some form, this is the first time that the mosquito borne virus has made its way into North America, especially through Florida.
While there are far fewer cases in Georgia, it’s important to understand as much as possible about mosquito control in Atlanta, as our city is a hotbed of stinging activity that can potentially bring on the infection.
The virus is transmitted via mosquito bites, much like dengue fever. After being bitten, a person will experience symptoms after the incubation period of 3 to 7 days. The most common symptoms are flu-like; fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis – or red, itchy eyes.
Despite media hysteria, the Zika virus results in mild illness, with symptoms lasting from several days to a week after the bite. Many people don’t even know they’re infected.
Additionally, once a person has been infected, reinfection is unlikely
So why is there so much fuss in the news? Because during pregnancy, Zika causes serious birth defects, like microcephaly, an irreversible trauma resulting in smaller brain and head size. As reported in The Atlantic, there is evidence that Zika will seriously harm or even kill a fetus in the third trimester (33 weeks has been reported), a time the baby is developed enough to withstand many other pathogens.
Where is the Zika Virus?
- In May of 2015, the Pan American Health Organization issued an alert of the first confirmed Zika virus infection in Brazil.
- On Feb 1st, 2016, the World Health Organization declared Zika a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)
- As people who are infected travel to new regions in the Americas, the virus will likely spread with them – especially because the typical symptoms are so mild.
Last reported to the CDC, there have been 544 cases in the United States, ALL of these are travel related, not locally acquired. However, in the greater US territories, there are reported 832 locally acquired cases.
In the South, these are the number of reported cases:
- Georgia (14)
- Tennessee (2)
- Alabama (2)
- South Carolina (1)
- North Carolina (11)
- Missouri (3)
- Louisiana (4)
- Florida (109)
- Arkansas (2)
Treatment Options for Zika Virus Infection
Currently, no vaccines exist. However, aside from pregnant women, the likelihood of serious complications is very slim. Zika remains in the blood for about a week or more, and all that can be done is to allow the sickness to run its course.
Get rest, drink fluids, take pain over the counter relievers but avoid non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) until a doctor rules out dengue fever. Also, make sure to speak with your doctor prior to mixing medications.
Finally, don’t get bitten by a mosquito during the first week of infection, so as not to spread the virus to others.
How to Avoid Mosquitos in Your Atlanta Neighborhood
Because the Zika virus is mosquito borne, it’s important to stay away from mosquitos.
Get rid of stagnant, standing water – note that a six-inch diameter container is enough space for mosquitos to breed. If it’s not possible to empty all of the standing water on your property, use mosquito dunks to kill mosquito larvae.
In addition, clean your gutters and keep a well-manicured lawn to remove the places that are ideal for mosquito habitat. For example, remove overgrowth, shrubs, and weeds. With these tips and expert advice, you can rid your home of the potentially destructive mosquito borne virus.
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