The Aedes mosquito is present throughout North America. More and more in the news we are hearing about the dreaded Zika virus which unfortunately has been associated with Epstein-Barr syndrome as well as birth defects (Microcephaly) in the infants of those mothers bitten during their pregnancy. More can be found here at the CDC web site. And here is some info for those that are pregnant. Again from the Centers for Disease Control
It is important to note that you live in an area that is infected with the Aedes Mosquito carrying the Zika virus that if you develop symptoms such as a fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis that you get checked by a doctor. About one in five people actually infected with the Zika virus will show the symptoms and for most they will not show any symptoms at all. Usually you’re going to see the symptoms after anywhere from 2 to 7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Now the problem is that if you are carrying that virus and you’re sleeping next to someone and a mosquito bites you and then bites them the virus can be transferred from you to them so this is a direct blood to blood transmissible virus. This is why were seeing the explosion across the Americas right now. Unfortunately if you look at this map you’ll see all the areas in the US that currently contain the Aedes mosquito which means all these areas become possible transmission points. Now in most cases the Aedes mosquito carries things like dengue fever and chikungunya virus. And it is important to note that mortality is very rare. There is still not a lot known about the Zika virus so as it is studied we will learn more and more. One thing for sure is that mosquito control is paramount and that is really really paramount if you are pregnant or considering becoming pregnant. This is because the Zika virus has been showing up in the babies born of women that were infected with this virus. They develop a disorder called microcephaly which results in a deformed head, brain damage and other neurological disorders including fetal death syndrome. This is extremely scary and steps should be taken so that no exposure to mosquitoes occur.This is not as easy as it seems as mosquitoes are endemic to our area. The CDC does state that mosquito repellent’s are safe to use even if you are pregnant as long as they are applied as per the label. This is of course a personal decision but I would let my wife use it if she was pregnant as I think the overall benefits outweigh the risk in a situation such as this. One area that is bright is the fact that it is been shown that once the virus is out of the system there are no future risks to pregnancies or the fetus. So that is one aspect of this virus that a bright spot.
Now for certain people that are infected with this virus that have immune disorders they currently don’t know what the long-term effects may be. We do know that Epstein-Barr is actually the immune system attacking itself. This is the virus that causes mononucleosis. Some of the symptoms include fever, fatigue, sore throat and it mimics many other illnesses like the flu or a cold. One of the signs that the doctor will look for will be an enlarged spleen and also to see if you have a swollen liver and white patches on your tonsils. There is also a blood test that can be done that would look for elevated white blood cell counts. If you are bitten by a mosquito and you become ill afterwards it is best to be checked by a physician.
Now there are things that you can do around your home to help reduce the amount of mosquitoes that are present in your environment. These are in no particular order:
1. Make sure that all gutters, downspouts, and areas where the water is moved away from the house is able to flow freely and that gutters and downspouts are not blocked with leaves and material which provides an excellent breeding ground for mosquitoes.
2. Make sure that birdbaths are emptied every 2 to 4 days.
3. Make sure that any containers that hold plants to not have water building up underneath.
4. Any areas that have a water presence that cannot be emptied should have a prompt addition of Dunks. These are slowly dissolving all-natural products that target mosquito larva.
5. Yard sprays are of great benefit to help knock down mosquitoes.
6. Between the hours of dusk and dawn it is best to stay inside and if you are not inside it is best to use a registered insect repellent. If you are pregnant my suggestion is to just stay inside during these times as a precaution.
7. If you are pregnant and if you are bitten by a mosquito and you feel ill get yourself to a physician right away.
8. Do not travel to any areas that are currently having outbreaks of the Zika virus. This is to not only protect yourself but to protect your fellow Americans as this blood-borne virus is easily transferred from mosquito to person.