The zika virus is transmitted by the bite of a mosquito. The Aedes species is the mosquito that transmits the virus. They are the most active during the day. The infection was first seen in Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. In May of 2015, it was found in Brazil and now has been detected in Miami. There have been cases of transmission from sexual contact or blood from an infected person. Unborn fetuses are at risk for microencephally (smaller than normal brain development). Pregnant women should protect themselves from mosquito bites.
Protect yourself from mosquito bites by cleaning up all standing water: in old tires, ditches that do not drain, animal water containers, etc. Also taking vitamin B complex daily will deter mosquitoes. The vitamins are excreted in the skin and the mosquitoes do not like the taste and will not bite. Start well before the weather is warm enough for the mosquitoes to be out. Wear long sleeves and long pants during the time mosquitoes are flying and wearing white fabric is preferred. Keep doors and windows closed with the air conditioner on to prevent them coming into the house or car. Wearing an insect repellent is also helpful. I have found vitamin B has protected me very well.
If you are camping, sleep under a mosquito net and spray clothes and gear with permethrin, other products such as oil of lemon eucalyptus and citronella can also be helpful. Do not use insect repellent on infants under two months of age. Cover stroller, car seat or bed with mosquito netting.
The symptoms of the zika virus are fever, joint aches, conjunctivitis and rash. There are no reports of anyone having to be hospitalized from this virus. The illness is self-limited. Treatment is rest, plenty of fluids to stay hydrated and take acetaminophen for fever. Avoid aspirin and non-steroidal medications. The illness can last from a few days to a week. Take measures now to limit the number of mosquitoes being able to live around your property.
Gay Fulkerson, MD, is a board certified family physician and wound care/hyperbaric specialist.