With their annoying hums, buzzing wings, and irritating bites, mosquitos can keep you awake all night. These tiny creatures have been sucking blood for 200,000,000 years. Besides what a nuisance mosquitos are, they are also responsible for spreading several viral diseases, like yellow fever, dengue, chikungunya,
and the Zika virus. If you’ve never heard of Zika until now,
you’re not alone. The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne disease spread by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito. In order to transmit Zika, a female mosquito carrying the virus must first find a human host, by following traces of
carbon dioxide, odor, and body temperature in the air. When a mosquito bites, it inserts its needle-like proboscis into the skin. The proboscis is made of two tubes – One tube injects saliva containing an enzyme that prevents the host’s blood from clotting; while the other tube pumps blood out. Once the mosquito bites, the virus is transmitted instantly to the host. If you live in an area prone to mosquitos, the risk of transmitting the virus increases. Once a person becomes infected with Zika, mild symptoms may begin to develop within a few days, Including: fever, rash, conjunctivitis and joint pain. Fortunately hospitalization is very rare, and the disease usually clears up within a week. Besides mosquitos, Zika can also be transmitted through: blood transfusions, sexual intercourse, and from mother to unborn child during pregnancy. While Zika is problematic for everyone, the most serious concern is its effect on a developing fetus. Since the Brazilian outbreak began in May 2015, Over 4,000 babies have been born with microcephaly, a serious condition in which a baby is born with an underdeveloped brain and a smaller-than-normal head. Scientists believe there may be a link between Zika and microcephaly, but more information is still needed. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself and your family: Eliminate mosquito breeding locations by
emptying containers where standing water has accumulated. Spray insecticide around ponds, Light citronella candles, and wear EPA certified insect repellant when outdoors. Stay in places with air conditioning, and make sure your windows and doors are screened in. and… wear long sleeves and long pants. If you’re pregnant, consider postponing travel to places where Zika is spreading. Check the CDC’s website for the most up-to-date travel recommendations. So remember, while there isn’t a vaccine or medication for Zika yet, you can reduce your risk by staying informed, and doing your best to avoid mosquitos.