Officials say mosquitoes carry the Zika virus and other diseases.
Frederick, Md (KM) Many families will be spending a lot of time outdoors during the summer months. The Frederick County Health Department is reminding residents to be aware of mosquitoes which can carry the Zika virus. “The Zika virus may not cause long term illness for those infected. However, the virus can have serious and grave consequences for a baby of an infected mother,” says Melissa Pawlus, the Public Health Emergency Planner at the Health Department.
The Zika virus has been known to cause birth defects in infants.
Pawlus says one way to protect your family from mosquito bites is to remove standing water from your property. “Mosquitoes only need a very small amount of water to lay their eggs. This could be a small container, even rainwater in a flower pot, or corrugated drainpipes; even birthbaths can have mosquito larva in them,” she says
Another way, Pawlus says, is to wear .long sleeve shirts and long pants when outside. She also says apply insect repellent on yourself and your family, especially ones containing DEET.
There hasn’t been any transmission of the Zika virus locally, but the Health Department says it has been detected in Central and South America, the Caribbean and Puerto Rico. If you’re planning to travel to countries in these areas, you still need to take precautions, says Darlene Armacost, Program Manager for Communicable Disease and Preparedness. “It really is important for people who are going to be traveling if they are pregnant to take serious precautions so they do not get infected because they not have symptoms, and they may not realize that they really are infected with the Zika virus,” says Armacost.
The symptoms of the Zika virus are fever, rash, headache, joint pain, conjunctivitis (red eye) and muscle pain. They are mild and generally last for several days to a week.
Armacost says if you’re woman whose not pregnant and you travel to the counties with the Zika virus, you still need to take precautions, especially if you plan to become pregnant some day. “Anyone who wants to have a baby and is returning from vacation, a woman needs to wait approximately eight weeks before she tries to get pregnant, and a man needs to wait at least six months before he tries have his partner become pregnant,” she says.
There is no specific treatment for Zika, and no vaccine exists to prevent it. If you have any of the symptoms for this disease, you’re encouraged to contact your doctor or health care provider.
In addition to the Zika virus, mosquito bites can also spread dengue fever and chikungunya.
By Kevin McManus