Miami: What You Need to Know About Zika

Zika has been identified by the Florida Department of Health as currently spreading in two regions in the Miami area. An advisory was released for travelers, specifically for pregnant women, their partners, and for those living in the area.

Wynwood was previously identified as the only region in which the Zika virus was being spread by mosquitoes. Zika has recently begun showing up in a 20-block section of South Beach. Those living in or who plan to travel to the Miami area should take the proper precautions to protect against mosquitoes carrying the virus.

It was reported Tuesday about half of the Wynwood area has been removed from the Zika zone. Florida Gov. Rick Scott reported at a meeting in Clearwater that the Department of Health, “believes that ongoing active transmissions are only occurring in the two previously identified areas in Wynwood and Miami Beach.” Less spraying will take place, but Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez confirmed that more spraying will take place in the Zika region again on Saturday in an effort to rid the region of the mosquitoes carrying the virus.

The parents of students attending schools that fall within the Miami Beach Zika Zone are urged to take the proper precautions, such as wearing long sleeves, pants, and insect repellent. Students are not allowed to bring insect repellant to school and must apply it prior to arriving on campus. If possible, purchase clothes treated with permethrin or purchase it at a local store, like Wal-Mart, and apply it to all school clothing. Permethrin is a contact pesticide that kills mosquitoes, ticks, and black flies but it does not have any harmful effects on humans. Permethrin can also be applied to plants to kill and repel mosquitoes.

Mosquitoes

The two types of mosquitoes that have been identified as carriers of the virus are the Aedes aegypti and the Aedes albopictus.

Aedes aegypti

Aedes aegypti mosquito (yellow fever mosquito) Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons, James Gathany, CDC

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Aedes aegypti mosquitoes (pictured) are more likely to spread viruses like Zika because this type of mosquito prefers to feed on people rather than animals. The Aedes albopictus mosquitoes (pictured below) feed on animals as well as people. While it is less likely to spread diseases, it is a carrier and can cause an outbreak of diseases like Zika.

Aedes Albopictus mosquito

Aedes albopictus mosquito (Asian tiger mosquito) Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons, James Gathany, CDC

No Reason to Panic

With good reason, people should be cautious, but there is no reason to panic. The CDC reports the majority of those contracting Zika do not always display symptoms. Zika symptoms are normally mild, and those infected rarely need to see a doctor or visit a hospital. Often, people do not even realize they have become infected. Only in rare instances does the virus wreak havoc and cause serious damage, as has been seen most recently in Brazil. Some individuals have been diagnosed with Guillain-Barré. It is a neurological disorder in which the “body’s immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system.” It is rare, affecting one in 100,000 people.

Zika remains live in your system for about a week. Symptoms last a few days up to about a week. If you develop the following symptoms, check with your doctor for blood tests. It would be wise to speak with your doctor, especially if you are pregnant or if you have recently visited an area that has been identified with Zika. Zika is suspected to cause microcephaly and other severe birth defects.

Symptoms:

  • Rash
  • Joint pain
  • Fever
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain

To protect against Zika and other viruses, adhere to the following recommendations:

  • Use an insect repellent registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that contains the following ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or para-menthane-diol. EPA-registered insect repellents have been tested and proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
  • Stay inside as often as possible, especially at peak times of the day when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Keep screen doors and windows shut to prevent mosquitoes from getting indoors.
    Wear long-sleeves and pants.
  • When placing bug spray on your face, spray it on your hands, and carefully spread onto your face, avoiding your eyes.
  • Refrain from sexual activity with anyone who has recently displayed symptoms of infection or who has been in a known Zika zone.

For around the house or yard, it is recommended to empty any containers filled with standing water since those are the perfect breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Some other things that can be done include installing or building a bat house. Bats tend to eat a lot of mosquitoes. Citronella candles are well-known to repel mosquitoes. Many plants, such as lemon grass or lemon thyme, also deter mosquitoes.


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