What is Zika Virus?
Zika Virus is a disease that is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. The Aedes Albopictus is a species, known as the Asian Tiger Mosquito, that can transmit the Zika Virus.
The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and cases of death from the Zika virus are very rare.
However, the Zika Virus has been linked to a serious birth defect of the brain called Microcephaly in babies of mothers who had the virus while pregnant.
What if you are pregnant or planning pregnancy?
Pregnant women and couples planning to get pregnant can protect themselves and their unborn children from Zika Virus by taking the following precautions:
- Consider postponing travel to areas where Zika Virus transmission is ongoing.
- Consult with your doctor or other health care provider and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites if you plan to travel to these areas.
- Pregnant women should discuss their male partner’s potential exposures to mosquitoes and any history of Zika-like illnesses.
How does Zika Virus spread?
Zika Virus can be spread from a pregnant woman to her fetus and has been linked to a serious birth defect of the brain. Zika can also be spread by a man to his sex partner because the virus stays present in semen longer than in blood.
While sexual transmission of Zika is possible, it is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito.
The mosquitoes typically lay eggs in and near standing water in things like buckets, animal dishes, flower pots, gutters and old tires. They are aggressive daytime biters, prefer to bite people, and live indoors and outdoors near people. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on a person already infected with the virus. Infected mosquitoes then spread the virus to other people through bites.
What can you do to protect yourself from Zika?
Here are some important tips to help you prevent getting bitten by mosquitoes:
- Wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt when outdoors for long periods of time, or when mosquitoes are more active.
- Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents with one of the following active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or para-menthane-diol. Choosing an EPA-registered repellent ensures the EPA has evaluated the product for effectiveness. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breast-feeding women.
- Check window or door screens and repair as needed to ensure that mosquitoes cannot enter.
What can you do to prevent the spread of Zika?
Because the Aedes Albopictus can easily and rapidly increase its population, we all need to help in the battle to prevent Zika from spreading. It is of upmost importance that we take measures to eliminate the mosquito’s breeding grounds and stop the cycle before it begins. Here are some steps you can take to help eliminate mosquitoes:
- Eliminate standing water from containers such as flower pot saucers, watering cans, buckets, old tires, recycling bins and gutters.
- Store children’s toys indoors or in a manner that prevents water accumulation.
- Change the water and clean bird baths.
- Empty water that collects in folds of tarps used to cover woodpiles, boats, pools, lawn furniture, etc.
- Clear leaves and debris to allow water to flow freely from drainage ditches and roof gutters.
- Filter ornamental ponds using a circulation pump or stock the pond with fish.
- Drain or fill in puddles and areas of your yard that remain wet and soggy for more than a week.
- Keep lawns maintained to prevent overgrowth.
What is Nassau County doing to battle Zika?
The Nassau County Department of Health has already begun trapping and collecting mosquitoes at 42 sites to prevent the spread of diseases such as encephalitis, including West Nile and Zika viruses. The Department of Public Works (DPW) is prepared to treat thousands of street basins, sumps, ponds and hundreds of miles of fresh water streams for mosquitoes as well as aerial applications of larvicide in south shore salt marshes.
For travel advisory and more information on Zika Virus and the Aedes albopictus visit www.cdc.gov/zika.
For complaints concerning mosquitoes or standing water, contact the Nassau County Department of Public Works at (516) 571-6900.
For questions regarding mosquito surveillance, contact the Nassau County Department of Health at (516) 572-1211.
HELP PREVENT THE SPREAD OF ZIKA VIRUS:
REMOVE MOSQUITO BREEDING SITES AROUND YOUR HOME