Health officials in Florida have confirmed the first transmissions of the Zika virus from infected mosquitoes in the United States.
So far, the only Zika patients in the Mid-south have been linked to recent visits to affected areas outside of the country but doctors are urging people to know their risks and plan accordingly.
Mosquito Joe is just one mosquito control company in the area, working to cutback on the potential for bites. Crews have been spraying bushes and trees around their clients’ yards, to deter the insects. “They’re going to typically rest before they come into the yard, and that’s where we gain control of them,” said Steve Clark, owner of Mosquito Joe in Memphis.
Meanwhile, health officials are trying to control the spread of the virus, with confirmed cases of mosquito transmission in the states. “People shouldn’t be all shook up about it but they need to be aware of the risks,” explained Dr. Mark Castellaw of the Baptist Medical Group. Castellaw said, if you’re not pregnant or planning a family, the effects can be minimal. “It’s a very mild viral illness.
You could get a rash, fever, joint pain but it’s self limited and goes away.” Initial transmission happens through a mosquito bite and right now, there’s no treatment or approved vaccine, so the virus runs its course. Castellaw explained Zika can stay in a person’s system for months and be transmitted through sexual contact. It’s why many athletes have chosen to drop out of the 2016 Olympic Games, to avoid bringing the virus home to their spouses. For those who are pregnant, a rare neurological condition called Microcephaly can happen, causing infants to be born with a small head and brain.
More than 1,600 people have been diagnosed with Zika in the United States, but the vast majority have contracted it while traveling abroad. Talk to your doctor if you’re planning a family, before booking a trip to affected areas. At home, “reduce your possibility of getting bit, that’s where we come in,” said Clark. Mosquito Joe plans to continue spraying for clients through the fall.