ZIKAWith the 2016 Olympics fast approaching the media is gearing up for full coverage in the beautiful city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  This year’s events have already been in the news for a new concern, Zika Virus.

This is what we know from the CDC:

  • Zika virus spreads to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito.
  • Mosquitoes that carry Zika are aggressive daytime biters, but they can also bite at night. A mosquito becomes infected when it bites a person already infected with Zika. That mosquito can then spread the virus by biting more people.
  • The most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes. Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache.

There is no vaccine to prevent Zika. The best way to prevent diseases spread by mosquitoes is to protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites.

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Š
  • Stay in places with air conditioning and window and door screens.
  •  Treat your clothing and gear with permethrin or buy pre-treated items. Š
  •  Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents.
  • Remove all standing water around your home.

Of the over 800 reported cases in the United States 100% have originated with a person traveling from an affected area and returning with Zika. The affected person can spread the virus through sexual contact.

The biggest threat of the Zika virus is to pregnant women. The primary way that pregnant women get Zika virus is through the bite of an infected mosquito. Zika virus can also be spread via sexual transmission. If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant the CDC has the following guidelines.

  • Do not travel to affected areas.
  • Follow steps to prevent mosquito bites.
  • Know your partner’s travel history and use precautions.

Whether you are lucky enough to see the athletes in person or just staying home and enjoying the weather it’s always a good idea to make your home the safest it can be. In addition to the steps above:

  • Empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out any items that hold water like tires, buckets, planters,     toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpot saucers, or trash containers. Mosquitoes lay eggs near water.
  • Tightly cover water storage containers (buckets, cisterns, rain barrels) so that mosquitoes cannot get inside to lay eggs.
  • For containers without lids, use wire mesh with holes smaller than an adult mosquito.
  • Use larvicides to treat large containers of water that will not be used for drinking and cannot be covered or dumped out.
  • Use an outdoor insect spray made to kill mosquitoes in areas where they rest.
  • Mosquitoes rest in dark, humid areas like under patio furniture, or under the garage.