Mosquitoes have always been considered one of the most annoying of pests. Mosquito control is needed not only to stop the itch and welts their bites cause, but also the diseases mosquitoes can spread. And the potential for those diseases is increasing every year. In 2015, the U.S. saw the first case of Chikungunya, and now, on January 22, 2016, the first confirmed case of the Zika virus has been detected in the United States Virgin Islands.
The Zika virus is transmitted to people when the person is bitten by an infected Aedes mosquito – the same genus that carries and spreads dengue, chikungunya, and yellow fever. The first Zika outbreaks were reported in the Pacific in 2007 and 2013, in South America and Africa in 2015, and now in the U.S. in 2016.
Cases also have been confirmed in 13 countries in the Americas, which, the World Health Organization (WHO) says, is an indication that the virus is expanding rapidly.
Typical symptoms of Zika are mild fever, skin rash and conjunctivitis (pink eye), normally lasting two days to a week. There is currently no vaccine or treatment for Zika. However, WHO also states that the virus is usually mild, so does not require specific treatment, except plenty of rest and fluids, and the treatment of pain and fever with common medicines.
The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends, however, that anyone who develops a fever with a rash, joint pain, or red eyes talk to their doctor.
CDC agrees that people who think they may have contracted the Zika virus should get plenty of rest and fluids, but also says you should take only acetaminophen or paracetamol for fever and pain, not aspirin, products containing aspirin, or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen.
Zika is especially dangerous for pregnant women, because it can be spread from a pregnant woman to her unborn baby causing microcephaly (underdeveloped heads and brains) or other birth defects. For this reason, CDC and WHO recommend that pregnant women not travel to any areas where the Zika virus has been detected, and that they take precautions against getting bitten.
There is no vaccine or specific treatment for Zika, so the only real answer is to take precautions to prevent bites. The Aedes mosquito is active and bites people during the day, unlike the Culex species, which is more common in the U.S., which is more active and biting dusk to dawn. Because of this, prevention against the bite of the Zika-transmitting Aedes mosquito includes
Personal Protection Against Mosquitoes
To protect yourself against mosquitoes of any species; when in areas that the mosquitoes are present and/or times of day that they bite:
· Wear clothes that cover the skin, including long sleeves, long pants, shoes and sock. Light-colored clothing also can be less attractive to mosquitoes.
- Use an EPA-registered insect repellent. Pregnant women also can use EPA-registered insect repellents according to the product label and most can be used on children who are at least 3 months old. Always read and follow all label directions when using any insect repellent or insecticide.
- Particular care should be taken for those who sleep during the daytime (especially babies, young children, the sick and elderly).
- If the area is, in any way, open to the outdoors or there is any potential of mosquitoes getting in, a mosquito net should be used around the bed (with or without insecticide).
- Day or not, whenever possible, stay and sleep in screened-in or air-conditioned rooms.
Environmental Protection Against Mosquitoes
- Around your property, empty, clean or cover natural and artificial items/structurers that can hold water (e.g., children’s toys, pails, flower pots, sunken areas that puddle, etc.) to reduce potential mosquito breeding areas.
- For outdoor pets, keep water bowls clean, regularly changing the water.
- Ensure all door and window screen fit well, without gaps, and have no holes or tears.
Mosquito control and prevention
For more information on mosquito control and prevention, see:
- All about Mosquitoes
- Tips to Help Prevent Mosquito and Tick Bites
- Why Are Mosquitoes Attracted to Some People?
- Three Steps to Outdoor Mosquito Control