Zika virus is spread through the bite of an infected Aedes genus of mosquitoes, which is the same mosquito species that carries dengue fever and chikungunya. Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are the primary carriers, but Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, also known as the Asian tiger mosquito, might also transmit the virus.
While we can't speculate on the virus and its potential to spread, it is better to be prepared and practice vigilance in mosquito control by protecting yourself from coming into contact with mosquitoes and by eliminating breeding grounds at home should there begin to be cases of local transmission here in the United State. So far, all human cases reported in the U.S. have resulted from travel abroad.
- Most counties have a mosquito abatement program in place to minimize the local population and help keep the public safe. These programs typically involve trapping mosquitoes in different areas and testing them for known pathogens. This helps monitor the spread of diseases and warn the public of risks in the area. County programs may also include plans for periodic spraying or fogging to eliminate adult mosquitoes.
- Eliminate areas of standing water around the home such as flowerpots, birdbaths, baby pools, grill covers and other objects where water collects. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in water where the larvae develop and need only about 1/2 inch of water to breed.
- Screen all windows and doors. Repair even the smallest tear or hole.
- Minimize outside activity between dusk and dawn, when the majority of mosquitoes are most active.
- If you must spend time outdoors during peak mosquito times, or when you will be outdoors for extended periods, wear long pants and sleeves and use an insect repellant containing DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon-eucalyptus.
- It is especially important to wear effective insect repellents and protective clothing if traveling outside the U.S. Mosquito-borne diseases that may be rare in the U.S. are common in many foreign countries.
- If you are concerned about mosquito activity on your property, contact a pest management company or your local health department.