Health organizations are gearing up to fight the mosquito-borne Zika virus, but so far Indiana is not considered within the danger zone for contracting the disease. The World Health Organization issued a global warning about Zika on Feb. 1.
Currently, only those who travel to infected regions are at risk of contracting the virus. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recently advised pregnant women to delay traveling to any area containing the virus. Non-pregnant women were not included in this advisory. If a woman is planning to become pregnant, then she should seek advice from her personal healthcare provider if she intends to travel to an infected area.
What is the Virus?
For most people, the Zika virus just causes them to feel mildly ill. Symptoms include fever, pink eye, joint pain and a rash. Often, those who are infected with the virus don’t even feel ill enough to make a doctor’s appointment. One in five people develop symptoms. One in every 1,000 cases results in death. The main concern with Zika is that it can cause a birth defect called microcephaly. When a baby has the condition, his or her head fails to grow normally. In Brazil, the Zika virus has caused the number of infants born with this birth defect to rise.
The virus’s preferred hosts are two kinds of Aedes mosquitos. Neither one lives in Indiana. However, the virus has been found in the Asian tiger mosquito, and this insect is found here. As of early February, no states had reported cases of Zika originating from local bites. However, some cases have been reported in travelers returning from overseas.
The Zika virus has been traced to more than 20 different countries in the Caribbean and in South and Central America, including Puerto Rico and Mexico. It is also in Samoa and Cape Verde.
Lowering the Risk of Transmission
To reduce your risk of coming down with any mosquito-borne ailment, take a few precautions. Get rid of any standing water on your property. Also, use mosquito spray when spending time outdoors. If you live in a rural area, consider contacting a pest control expert to assess your property for mosquito breeding areas. By implementing these safety measures and keeping your travel destinations nearby, you and your family should remain free of the Zika virus.