Zika Virus: The Best Offense is a Good Defense!
Clay County Fact Sheet- Bradley Burbaugh
As of February 10, 2016:
- There have been 16 confirmed, travel-related cases of Zika in Florida.
- The above mentioned cases are considered “imported” because these individuals have been infected in areas outside of Florida.
- There is no evidence of local (i.e., Florida) mosquitoes being infected or transmitting the virus.
- There is no vaccine against Zika virus.
- Being proactive by protecting yourself from mosquitoes and reducing mosquito habitat is the best thing you can do at this time.
The Virus: Active Transmission Areas
Until 2007, Zika was a relatively obscure virus, confined to a narrow zone around the equator in Africa and parts of Asia. In 2007, a disease outbreak on the Yap Islands in Micronesia turned out to be caused by the Zika virus. Later, outbreaks of Zika occurred in Polynesia, Easter Island, the Cook Islands, and New Caledonia.
In 2015, a large outbreak started in Bahia, Brazil and spread throughout South and Central America and the Caribbean. Large outbreaks of the disease have been reported from many countries in the area including Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, and probably others that have not yet reported accurate statistics. In the continental United States, travel-related cases of the disease have been reported from several states, including Florida.
The Zika virus is cycled between mosquitoes and humans and is transmitted by the bite of infected female mosquitos. The two types of mosquitos most commonly associated with virus transmission are the Yellow Fever Mosquito (Aedes aegypti) and the Asian Tiger Mosquito (Aedes albopictus). These mosquitoes are considered to be container mosquitoes because they lay their eggs on moist inner walls of containers above the water.
The most effective ways to protect yourself is to wear protective clothing when exposed to mosquitoes (e.g., long sleeves and pants) and use effective repellents. Repellents that are currently available are either synthetic chemicals, such as DEET, or plant derived chemicals such as citronella.
Various formulations of these repellents are available that differ in the amount of active ingredient, which is the substance that actually repels the mosquito. These products are available as sprays, wipe-on's, sticks, foams, and lotions. It is very important to read the label before using any mosquito repellent and remember that there are different recommendations for frequency of application for different repellents. Below is an overview of common products, their active ingredients, and protection time:
The following types of products that have been advertised as mosquito repellents or control products have NOT been found to be effective:
• Devices that emit sound to repel mosquitoes.
• Consumption of garlic, bananas, or vitamin B.
• Bracelets, bug zappers, bug patches, etc.
Reducing Container Mosquito Habitat
Recommendations to reduce abundance of container mosquitoes:
• Inspect your yard once per week and remove, or drain water-holding items, and modify objects so that they don’t hold water.
• Treat water that can’t be dumped out with mosquito dunks (containing a mosquito-specific bacteria, Bti).
• For containers that are used for water collection (i.e., rain barrels), place a screen over the top to prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs above the water line.
• For bird baths, dump out water and replace with clean water every week.
• Get rid of or recycle used tires.
• Clean roof gutters.
Links to Additional Resources
- FMEL Website - Zika Frequently Asked Questions
- Center for Disease Control Zika Information
- Florida Health.gov - Diseases and Conditions/Zika Virus
- Mosquito.ifas.ufl.edu - Zika Information
- Center for Disease Control - Fact Sheets and Posters
- New England Journal of Medicine Article on Zika Virus
- EDIS Publication - Mosquito Repellents
* This fact sheet was developed from a presentation to UF/IFAS County Extension Agents from Dr. Roxanne Connelly, Professor and Extension Specialist of Medical Entomology, located at the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory in Vero Beach, FL.
1 UF/IFAS Clay County Extension Director, 2463 SR 16 W, Green Cove Springs, FL 32043, 904-284-6355, email@example.com