Is Zika Still a Threat in the U.S.?

//Is Zika Still a Threat in the U.S.?

In 2017, the CDC’s national monitoring system reported 427 cases of symptomatic Zika virus within the United States:

  • Exactly 416 cases were the result of travelers returning from a Zika-affected area.
  • Four cases were attributable to local mosquito-borne transmissions in Florida.
  • Seven cases were attributable to other sources like sexual contact.

In the U.S. Territories—American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands—653 Zika cases were reported, with all but one attributable to local mosquito-borne transmission. The statistics are sobering, so what does that mean for Southern states like Georgia in 2018?

Understanding Zika Virus

Researchers are still working to fully understand the full ramifications of the Zika virus. However, they do know that mosquitoes are the primary vector for transmitting it and that two specific species seem to be responsible:

  • Aedes aegypti: Known for being aggressively active both day and night, Aedes aegypti has demonstrated the ability to survive and even thrive indoors. Females need minimal amounts of water to breed, and eggs remain viable and transferable on dry surfaces for up to a year. Meanwhile, these mosquitoes are infamous for hiding in closets, underneath beds, or behind furniture or appliances between blood meals.
  • Aedes albopictus: Commonly called the Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus is the less aggressive of the two, feeding on animals as well as people. However, this second potential Zika transmitter also bites during the day as well as night. Because it’s more cold-tolerant, it’s also more widespread; its documented range extends further north and west than that of Aedes aegypti. Meanwhile, researchers are learning that this species is also capable of thriving indoors.

What may be startling is just how little water either species requires to breed and how resilient their eggs are. Aedes mosquitoes don’t lay their eggs directly on water like many other species do. Instead, they lay their eggs at water’s edge. Researchers have documented females laying eggs on damp filter paper. Once the paper dries, they can collect the eggs, store them and allow them to hatch when placed in water months later. Since eggs in warm climes could survive from season to season, researchers are still trying to assess whether Zika—like some other mosquito-borne illnesses—can be transmitted vertically, from female mosquitoes to their eggs and offspring.

The Aftermath of Zika Virus

Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that spreads from one person to another through the bites of mosquitoes infected with the virus. Many people never know that they were infected because they experience few or extremely mild symptoms. However, pregnant women are especially vulnerable because the virus can cause microcephaly and other significant birth defects in unborn fetuses. Therefore, anyone who suspects that they may have contracted Zika—through travel to a high-Zika-risk area or through sexual contact with someone who may be infected—should schedule a consultation with their physician for a conclusive blood test.

Zika Virus in 2018

The number of reported Zika cases in the U.S. in 2017 was a marked decrease from 2016’s numbers. What 2018 will bring to the U.S., Georgia and the Atlanta area may well depend on variables like weather, Zika transmission rates in high-risk areas, the incidence of Zika in border states like Florida and public awareness of the problem.

No vaccine yet exists for Zika. However, effective preventive measures can help protect you and your family from mosquitoes and mosquito-borne illnesses. If you would like more information on how to control mosquito populations around your home, MosquitoNix has effective solutions for every setting and situation. It’s why we’re the national leader in mosquito control. Contact us today and let us show you how we can help.

2018-07-23T22:48:19+00:00 April 2nd, 2018|
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