If you watch the news at all now-a-days it seems there is always a story about Mosquitoes or illnesses they can carry. The newest story is the Zika Virus.
- Is this a virus a real threat?
- Is the Zika Virus something I should worry about?
- Is the Zika Virus local to Virginia?
- Are my children at risk for contracting the Zika Virus?
These are questions I hope to answer in this article and try to ease your fears a little. We all seem to worry about those things that we do not understand. Hopefully after reading this article and my sources, we will be able to make an educated choice for what is best for you and your family when it comes to mosquito borne illnesses.
Is the Zika Virus a real threat?
This is a tricky question to answer. Virginia, from the writing of this article, has had at least 46 cases of Zika virus. As reported by the Salt Lake County health department, one person has already died from complications from a Zika infection. The individual in question had been outside of the United States and it is believed, that is how the virus made its way into the Salt Lake area.
Pregnant women are at an extremely high risk of Zika. In fact, the Salt Lake health department advises that women should abstain from sexual activity with a man who has traveled to an area with Zika outbreak and use condoms. The CDC explains that the virus can be transmitted to the females unborn fetus and cause a birth defects. If you need more information on these defects, you can check with the CDC as well here.
So it Zika a real threat? My answer would have to depend on your own personal location. The virus has been found in 2 species of mosquito, the latest being the Asian Tiger. Entomology Today gives a really good article on how to control these mosquitoes. They explain that other than trying to eliminate standing water area-wide spraying is also effective in eliminating these pests. Green Akers Pest Control LLC can treat around your home and help eliminate these breeding areas. Our technicians have been working with homeowners for years to help with mosquito control.
Is the Zika Virus something I should worry about?
Using the information above, and assuming Virginia does not get many more outbreaks of Zika infection, I would assume it is a very minimal chance anyone will come down with this disease in the immediate future. In areas where the Asian Tiger mosquito is a problem, I would take every measure to insure the mosquito could not live near my home. WTVR reports that Richmond is on the list of cities who are at the highest risk of outbreak ranking at number 25.
I do not believe that, with proper action, Zika is not something most Virginians, or even Americans, have to worry about when proper pest management is utilized. Pest control helps a great deal with mosquitoes and other biting insects. As long as standing water is eliminated, roosting areas are treated, and mosquito repellent used, I believe that the threat of infection is greatly diminished.
Is the Zika Virus local to Virginia?
Yes, Zika virus can be carried by mosquitoes native to Virginia. Because of the many people who travel in and out of the state all the time, it causes us to be at higher risk. Most of the cases in the US of Zika can be traced to people who have traveled out of the country to areas like South America, where the disease is more wide spread. As of April, 2016, 346 of the cases in the USA were from outside sources.
Are my Children at risk of contracting the Zika virus?
In pregnant women, Zika virus can cause birth defects in an unborn fetus, causing smaller than normal head size and other birth defects. As stated above, the CDC advises that women who are trying to become pregnant should abstain for at least 6 months if their significant other has been to any countries where Zika is prevalent. Men can spread the disease through intercourse.
As for older children and teenagers, the risk is minimal. The risk increases with young adults who are sexually active. Be sure to instruct your older children and young adults if they are going to be sexually active, to practice safe sex or abstain. Children who have been on missions to areas like South America, Mexico, Puerto, or other countries (A list is provided here), could have contracted the disease and not even know it.
So in short, if you are planning on being outside in the early morning or around dusk, keep repellent like Off on at all times. Wear long sleeve shirts and long pants to reduce skin exposure. Try to eliminate standing water to reduce breeding. Also treatment of the outside of the home or yard is also advised. If these steps are taken you can greatly reduce your exposure to these little blood suckers.
West Nile Virus
Many people have forgotten about the threat of West Nile Virus. A few years ago there was a mild outbreak of this mosquito spread virus. The disease is the most commonly transmitted by mosquitoes to humans as stated by the CDC. In fact, 70-80% of the people who are infected don’t even show symptoms. But the good news is that Humans are a “dead end host” to the disease (this means mosquitoes cannot bite a human who is infected and spread it to another human). The disease is circulated through birds.
Below are symptoms of West Nile infection;
- Headache, High Fever, Neck Stiffness, Disorientation, Coma, Tremors, Seizures, or paralysis.
- Serious illness can happen at any age but people above 60 are at the most risk
- Some neurologic side-effects are permanent
- Approximately 10% of the people who come down with the neurologic side effects will die.
Here is a list of countries plagued by Malaria mosquitoes. Malaria, much like Zika, is spread by visiting countries where Malaria is present. Symptoms can be;
- Moderate to severe shaking chills
- High fever
While these symptoms are very general, the Mayo Clinic advises to visit a doctor if you show symptoms of an extremely high fever after traveling to an area where malaria is a problem. Malaria is spread by parasites that is transmitted by the mosquito.
These microscopic parasites travel to the liver where they lie dormant for as long as a year! After they live in the liver and mature, they then move into the blood stream and attack blood cells. This is when it becomes transmittable again by other mosquitoes who bite you.
Pregnant women and their unborn children, travelers, and young children and infants are the most at risk for malaria.
In my personal opinion, West Nile virus poses greater danger than Zika Virus or Malaria to Virginians. In order to help stop these disease spreading parasites remember to try to keep bird baths empty, clean gutters, and remove leaf clutter from the yard. Try to dispose of old used tires and any yard clutter. Tire swings are common breading ground of mosquitoes, you should try to empty the water from these sources as well.
I have found mosquitoes breeding in house plants that are overly watered, so mosquitoes don’t just breed outside! Feel free to give us a call at Green Akers Pest Control LLC if you have any questions. We are local to Charlottesville, Nelson County and all surrounding areas. We have a 24 Hour Hotline and try to make ourselves available 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Let us help you keep mosquitoes at bay in the Virginia area. (434)882-0113