Zika Virus: Mosquitos that spread virus not found in Panhandle | TSLN.com

Zika Virus: Mosquitos that spread virus not found in Panhandle

The mosquito species that spread Zika virus are not found in the Panhandle or eastern Wyoming. But at least one of them has been found in eastern Nebraska. And local residents who travel where they might contract Zika should use personal protection to avoid it.

Zika virus disease is a primate and human disease caused by the Zika virus, a member of the genus Flavivirus, which include the West Nile, Dengue fever and other encephalitis and hemorrhagic viruses. The Zika virus was first discovered in Uganda in 1947.

The first human cases of Zika virus disease were reported in 1952. Human cases have been reported in Africa, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands and more recently South America and the Caribbean islands. Since the symptoms of the Zika virus disease are similar to other diseases, other outbreaks may have occurred undetected.

The Zika virus is spread through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus). The mosquito becomes infected when it bites or feeds on a human who has the Zika virus. These same mosquitoes can also spread dengue, chikungunya and other Flavivirus.

The Aedes mosquitoes prefer to bite humans and are aggressive daytime biters, but will also bite at night. They typically lay their eggs in standing water like bowls, buckets, flower pots, animal dishes, and vases. The Aedes species of mosquito found in the Panhandle of Nebraska and eastern Wyoming is the Aedes vexans, which is not known to carry the Zika virus. However, Aedes albopictus has been found in eastern Nebraska.

The most common symptoms humans exhibit when infected with the Zika virus are fever, rash, joint pain, muscle pain, headaches and conjunctivitis (red eyes). In some cases, they may not realize they have been infected.

The resulting illness is usually mild, with the symptoms lasting 2 to 10 days. Hospitalization is rarely needed and very rarely do humans die from the Zika virus disease. Persons who have been infected are likely to be protected from future infections.

There is neither a preventative vaccine nor any curative medicine to treat the Zika virus. If you believe you have the Zika virus, contact your health care provider.

It is recommended that infected individuals get rest, drink fluids to prevent dehydration, and take acetaminophen or paracetamol to reduce fever and pain. To avoid the risk of bleeding, do NOT take aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDAS) until Dengue fever can be ruled out.

The Zika virus can spread from an infected mother to child during pregnancy and birth. It can also be spread through sexual contact. It is not known if the Zika virus can be spread through blood transfusions.

It has been determined that the Zika virus can cause microcephaly, a birth defect where a baby’s head is much smaller than expected. These babies have brains which are smaller and do not develop properly.

This can lead to seizures, developmental delay, problems with movement and balance, feeding problems, hearing loss and vision problems. These lifelong problems can range from mild to severe and can be life-threatening.

Prevention is the only tool available at this time. Use mosquito repellants, wear clothes that cover the entire body, or use mosquito screens. Avoid travel to areas known to have the Zika virus, especially if pregnant or expecting to become pregnant.

If you do have the Zika virus, avoid being bitten by other mosquitoes, so the virus is not spread, by employing the personal protection mentioned above.

Reduce the breeding habitat of the mosquitoes by emptying water-holding containers where the mosquitoes can lay their eggs. Utilize timely sprays or fogging to manage adults and larvicides to manage the immatures.

More information can be found at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), http://www.cdc.gov/zika/index.html

–UNL Extension

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