Brazil is currently experiencing an outbreak of the dangerous Zika virus, with more than a million cases since the beginning of 2015. International researchers suspect the virus is responsible for a surge in babies born with microcephaly (abnormally small heads); nearly 4,000 since October of 2015. Researchers have not directly linked the Zika virus to microcephaly in infants, but are making progress in identifying the virus in known cases.
In December, 2015, the first case of the Zika virus was detected in Puerto Rico by a resident with no known travel history outside the island. Since then, the Puerto Rico Department of Health has been working with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to determine how the virus was contracted.
This mosquito-born virus is very rarely deadly. Most people (approximately 80%) don’t experience symptoms. Those that do experience a rash and flu-like symptoms. There is no vaccine or treatment available to those who contract the virus.
The CDC issued a travel notice advising people living in Puerto Rico and traveling to the island to take additional precautions to protect themselves from mosquito bites.
Precautions should also be taken to protect against similar diseases, dengue fever and chikungunya, currently at Watch Level 1 in Puerto Rico.
Likely to Spread
The World Health Organization warns against spread of the virus to places that have mosquitos, in particular the Aedes mosquito, which are found in every county but Canada and Chile.
In a statement, The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the regional office of the WHO, said: “PAHO anticipates that Zika virus will continue to spread and will likely reach all countries and territories of the region where Aedes mosquitoes are found.”
What is the Zika Virus?
Originally identified in 1947 in the Zika forests of Uganda is transmitted primarily through mosquito bites. Outbreaks have occurred throughout tropical regions of the world, including Africa, South America, Central America, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands.
Officials are predicting the virus will affect states in the southern US later in 2016.
Some small studies have suggested Zika can also be sexually transmitted, with infected men transmitting the virus to their partner.
What are Zika symptoms?
Zika symptoms are usually mild and only affect one in five people. They include a fever with a rash, joint pain or red eyes. Symptoms can last from several days to a week. After infection, people are suspected of having lifelong immunity. Deaths are rare and hospitalization in uncommon. The incubation period for the virus is up to 12 days and is usually gone from your system in 21 days. Health care providers should be contacted if you suspect you have contracted the virus.
Zika and pregnancy
Zika may be linked to abnormalities, intellectual disabilities and development delays if the virus is transmitted to a fetus during pregnancy. Microcephaly is a congenital condition associated with incomplete brain development in babies and characterized by a small an abnormally-shaped head. Babies born with the condition have a short life expectancy. The CDC is warning pregnant women not to travel to Zika-affected areas and to take precaution against mosquito bites.
If you suspect you have the virus and are trying to get pregnant, it is advised that you wait until the full virus cycle is over (21 days or more) to conceive.
What is the latest news about Zika in Puerto Rico?
Currently, Puerto Rico has one known case of the Zika virus, and has issued an Alert – Level 2 to practice Ehanced Precautions to protect against transmitting the virus. For the latest updates, check the CDC Puerto Rico page. Also visit Department de Salud Puerto Rico for specific information in Spanish.
How do I protect myself from the Zika virus?
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Mosquito Protection Basics
- Wear loose clothing that covers your arms and legs
- Wear mosquito repellent
- Don’t bother with electric bug zappers–they mainly kill moths
- Mosquitoes are the worst in the early evening and mornings
- Mosquitoes are more prevalent near standing water, after rain, and near overgrown brush
- Clear away any items that hold pooling water from around your home
Mosquito Control DIY
- The yeast + sugar trap (we tried this without success, but some people swear by it)
- The screen over a fan trap (our favorite diy gadget—catches fruit flies too!)
- Make your own natural bug repellent (smells great and works pretty well)
Low-Cost Mosquito Control
- Our favorite hand-held zapper from DynaZap (we tested 5 brands!)
- Mosquito Bits–to add to standing water & prevent eggs from hatching
- The good old mosquito net—a must for protecting babies and small children
- The camping hammock with mosquito net–to sway in the breeze stress free
- Simba Baby/Kids mosquito bracelets–for when you can’t be there every second
- Incense Sticks–for outdoor protection
- Good old Avon Skin So Soft + SPF–always a favorite!
- Cutter Mosquito Repellant Wipes—great for keeping in your purse
Big Ticket Mosquito Control
These may cost more, but if you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors enjoying your yard, they are a necessity! Note: Amazon will not ship these items to Puerto Rico. Contact the manufacturer directly.
- Burgess Propane Fogger–great for events
- Mosquito Magnet Mosquito Trap–continuous protection
- Blue Rhino Mosquito Vac–continuous protection (our favorite!)
We hope you found our list useful and have some great products and ideas to control mosquitos in your home!
Did we miss something? Comment below!