In 2016, the Zika virus became a nationally notifiable condition. That year, it hit its peak with 5,168 cases reported across the country, though the majority of those cases (4,897) were in travelers who had returned from affected areas. Since then, cases of Zika have dropped significantly in the United States, with only 433 reported cases reported in 2017 and as of April 4, 2018, there have been only 14 cases reported. (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) All cases in 2018 have occurred in returning travelers, as were all but 13 cases in 2017.
The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne illness, spread mainly through mosquito bites from Zika-infected mosquitoes. The primary species of mosquitoes that transmit this disease are the Aedes species mosquito (Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus), otherwise known as the Asian Tiger Mosquito. This is the same mosquito that spreads yellow fever and dengue fever. Zika can also be transmitted from between humans through unprotected sex or from a pregnant woman to her unborn child.
This virus was first discovered in the Zika Forest in Uganda (hence the name) and the first cases of Zika in humans were documented in 1952. Predominantly found in Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands, Zika outbreaks have more recently occurred in the Americas, especially Brazil and Northeast South America, the Caribbean, and Mexico.
The Asian Tiger mosquito can be found across the United States, but the risk Zika transmitted by mosquitoes in South Carolina are very low. According to the South Carolina Department of Environmental Health and Control, there have not been any cases of Zika in our state in 2018, but keep in mind that means nothing has been officially reported, not necessarily that it doesn’t exist here.
In 2016, the CDC considered Brownsville, Texas and Miami Dade County, Florida as higher risk areas and issued official travel precautions to people traveling to those areas, but in the summer of 2017 those travel precautions were lifted.
Many people infected with Zika will only have mild symptoms, if any at all. The most common symptoms are fever, rash, headache, joint pain, red eyes, and muscle pain. Symptoms can last for several days to a week. Luckily, Zika is rarely fatal, and people usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital. Once a person has been infected with Zika, they are likely to be protected from future infections.
Where Zika gets dangerous is in pregnant women. A mother infected with Zika virus can pass it to her unborn child, and there has been a link between being infected with Zika while pregnant and babies born with a condition called microcephaly. This is an abnormal smallness of a baby’s head, and has the potential to lead to severe brain damage, along with seizures, intellectual disability, hearing, and vision loss. There have also been links to additional problems such as miscarriage, stillbirth and other birth defects. Furthermore, in countries that have experienced Zika outbreaks, scientists have observed correlations between Zika and an increase in reported cases of a very rare condition called Guillain-Barré Syndrome, but there is much research to be done to come to any definitive conclusions in this regard.
There is no vaccine or specific medicine for Zika. It is best treated by managing the symptoms — getting plenty of rest, drinking lots of fluids to prevent dehydration, and taking medicine such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) to reduce pain and fever.
If you will be traveling outside the United States, check the CDC’s travel information website for the most up-to-date information and precautions regarding Zika in your destination. Sadly, most travelers don’t think to do this and there is always a chance of travelers returning from areas with high risk of Zika to bring it back to the United States, and thus increasing the chance of another outbreak.
Since there is no specific treatment plan or vaccine, the best way to protect yourself and your family from Zika virus and other mosquito-borne diseases is to prevent exposure to mosquitoes and their bites. Mosquito Squad of Savannah – Hilton Head’s mosquito barrier treatment eliminates up to 90% of mosquitoes from your property for three weeks straight. Sign up for a seasonal plan and our Savannah — Hilton Head mosquito control technicians will treat your yard all season long, so you can enjoy worry-free summers knowing you and your family are protected. In addition to our barrier treatment, we also offer automatic misting systems that are programmed to release our mosquito control formula for 30 seconds at designated times, or at your command with the push of a button on the included remote control and mobile app.
If you have any questions about Zika or other mosquito-borne diseases, or would like a free consultation about our barrier spray, misting systems, special events services, or tick, fleas, and no-see-ums control, call Mosquito Squad of Savannah – Hilton Head at 912-210-5909 or fill our our contact form and we’ll reach out to you. As the most trusted name in mosquito and tick control, Mosquito Squad’s top priority is your safety. We look forward to helping you!
Asian Tiger Mosquito (Aedes Albopictus)