Zika Virus – What You Need To Know

The level of alarm over the spreading Zika virus is increasing exponentially. The WHO, World Health Organization, stated that this pathogen, which was virtually unheard of in the Americas a year ago, is now spreading so fast that it could potentially infect up to 4 million people in the next 12 months. In response, the WHO has declared a global health emergency, an action it hasn’t taken since the 2014 Ebola outbreak.

Where Did It Come From and What Does It Do?

The Zika virus was first discovered in 1947 in a rhesus monkey living in the Zika Forest of Uganda. Since then, it has spread eastward across the globe and is now spreading explosively.

Spread of Zika virus

Source: The Washington Post

The virus is suspected to cause microcephaly, which is a rare and disabling condition that causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads. The disease may also be linked to Guillain-Barre syndrome, which attacks your nervous system and can cause paralysis. Sylvain Aldighieri, an epidemic alert and response employee for the WHO, stated that one of the challenges with the Zika virus is that it’s often “silent,” with as many as 75% of infected patients showing no symptoms.

Currently, there is no vaccine or treatment for the virus. Development of a vaccine has begun but it could be months before a safe and effective treatment is developed.

The Zika virus is mainly transmitted from being bitten by an infected mosquito. The map below shows the growth in density of the Aedes mosquito species over the past 50 plus years.

Zika virus mosquito

Source: The Washington Post

Is the U.S. at Risk for the Zika Virus?

Some infectious disease experts believe that it’s only a matter of time before the Zika virus spreads across the southern United States. States near the Gulf Coast are especially vulnerable because the warmer climate provides an ideal habitat and breeding ground for the multiple species of mosquitoes that can transmit the virus.

Countries with active Zika virus

Source: The Washington Post

According to the WHO, the virus has spread so rapidly because it’s mainly transmitted by a species of mosquito that lives in nearly every country in North and South America. The virus is also new to most regions and thus the population hasn’t built up any immunity against the disease.

The spread of the Zika virus is reminiscent of the West Nile virus outbreak that occurred in 2012. The virus caused hundreds of deaths in the U.S. with 31% occurring in Texas. By mid-August of 2012, Texas accounted for nearly half of all West Nile cases in the U.S.

West Nile outbreak 2012

Source: Mercury News

With the Zika virus now in Mexico and Spring Break approaching, it’s not hard to imagine the virus spreading rapidly into South Texas.

What You Can Do to Help Stop the Spread of Zika

The WHO has urged every community, family and individual to do their part in helping stifle the spread of the Zika virus. You can learn more about what you can do in one of our other blog posts here.

Don’t live in fear this spring and summer. Mosquito Shield of Corpus Christi can kill the existing population of mosquitoes around your home and create a barrier around your property to keep out other mosquitoes. We are a proven leader in residential mosquito control.

Give us a call at (361) 929-5426 and learn how we can provide quality mosquito control for you.