With the warm weather months upon us, this is the time of the year when we see an increase in mosquito activity and mosquito-borne illnesses. This includes West Nile virus and also the Zika virus which has recent outbreaks originating in Africa, Central America and South America. Both of these viruses are transmitted by mosquito bites and can have serious health consequences. Please note, this situation continues to evolve as more Zika cases are discovered. For the most up-to-date information, please visit the CDC's website.
Protect yourself from mosquitos at all times when you are outdoors or in areas where mosquitos are prevalent. Here are some tips:
- Use a mosquito repellant.
- Cover your arms and legs with lightweight clothing.
- Avoid areas where mosquitos are plentiful, especially in the morning or at night during peak active times.
- Remove areas of standing water around your home.
The Zika virus can cause serious birth defects. It can also be sexually transmitted through intercourse with an individual who was infected with the virus while traveling in an affected part of the world. It’s important that women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant be extremely cautious in avoiding Zika.
If you will be traveling to affected areas where there is active Zika transmission or you have recently returned from an affected area, there are some additional precautions you should take.
- Take extra precaution to avoid additional mosquito bites for three weeks after returning home to prevent Zika transmission to local mosquitos. This includes using insect repellent whenever you are outdoors, avoiding areas with mosquitos, dressing in long sleeves and pants, and limiting your time outdoors.
- Do not personally work in your yard to remove standing water for three weeks after you return home. This has a greater chance of exposing you to local mosquitos. After three weeks, remove standing water around your home to reduce mosquito breeding.
- Men should not engage in any type of sexual activity with a pregnant woman for the duration of the pregnancy or use condoms at all times until the end of the pregnancy.
- Men should use condoms each time they have any type of sex with a man or woman for at least eight weeks after returning home.
- Pregnant women who have recently traveled to an affected area should talk to a healthcare provider even if they don't feel sick. If you do develop a fever, rash, joint pain or red eyes during your trip, or within two weeks after returning home, see your doctor as soon as possible.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also have a section of their website with information dedicated to information about the Zika virus. If you are at a higher risk, including travelers to affected areas or a woman who is pregnant or may become pregnant, please learn more about how you can protect yourself.