23 Jun Zika and Mosquitoes, Summer 2017 Edition
Don’t get bit.
The last thing South Floridians want to hear about is Zika. The Zika virus has been a constant concern for Floridians since the virus broke out in 2015 in South America, and was later found in US cities in 2016. The virus is primarily transmitted by mosquito, but can also be transmitted through sex, blood transfusion, and from a pregnant woman to her fetus. The mosquito is a carrier, and once bit, a person can experience symptoms similar to the flu at first, followed by a rash. Rarely are adults hospitalized for Zika virus, recovering in a few days to a few weeks. The graver consequences of a Zika infection can fall on an unborn baby: it can cause microcephaly, a birth defect of the brain (Centers for Disease Control).
For Florida, and many other southern states, the goal is to work on prevention. Prevention of Zika requires a multilayered plan that involves the public as well as city/county health officials. The most important part of the prevention plan (for Floridians, especially) is mosquito control. People can help by using best practices of mosquito control in or around their homes, such as using screens on patio doors or windows, sleeping under mosquito nets, emptying items that hold water (tires, buckets, planters, birdbaths, etc.) (CDC). To protect yourself, use long sleeve shirts outside, and apply bug spray. Other things that are recommended include using outdoor insect spray in porches, gardens, or backyards, and killing mosquitoes inside your home.
Floridians are not strangers to mosquitoes as they are a regular part of our summers. For seniors who enjoy the outdoors during this time of the year, bug spray is as important as sunscreen lotion. Especially for those that visit from other parts of the country, who are not familiar with mosquitoes as pests. Summer outings such as barbecue parties, pool parties, National Parks visits, etc. all should include a can of bug spray, and long sleeve shirts and pants.
While the Zika virus is still a big concern, cities and counties all over the state are improving efforts to reach out to people to inspect, correct areas of noncompliance, and educate. For more information about your community’s efforts reach out to your local county or city government. You can also visit the Centers for Disease Control website for more tips; and for South Florida some more information about increased efforts can be found on the Health News Florida page of WLRN.