What to know about the zika virus

What You Should Know About the Zika Virus Before Spring Break

March 10, 2016

There is no denying that the Zika virus has been the talk of the town, especially since various cases have been reported in Iowa. With spring break right around the corner for many Iowa families, understanding what the virus is, how you contract it, and the proper ways to take preventative action if you will be traveling is crucial.

Understanding the Zika Virus Outbreak

First and foremost, let's break down what the Zika virus is. The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus that has been on the rise since the beginning of 2016 when the World Health Organization reported the first case in the Northern Hemisphere. Since then the cases have been rising gradually throughout the United States with two new Zika virus cases in Iowa alone.

Zika Virus Transmission

Zika Virus Transmission

The Zika virus primarily spreads to individuals through a bite from the mosquito species Aedes. Another way to spread the Zika virus is from mother to child, however, this is very rare. Sexual contact is also a way for this virus to spread from one person to another. And lastly, an individual can contract the viral infection through a blood transfusion.

Aedes Species of Mosquitoes

The Aedes species of mosquitoes tend to lay its eggs in and near standing water. For example, the most common places to find these mosquitoes are in animal dishes, flower pots and buckets. They live both indoors and outdoors, preferring to bite people in particular and are most active during the day. The mosquitoes become infected after they feed on a person who is already infected with the virus. The infected mosquitoes then spread the virus to other individuals through bites.

Fast Facts:

  • The average lifespan of an Aedes mosquito in nature is approximately two weeks.
  • The Aedes mosquito can lay eggs about three times throughout its life and can produce roughly 100 eggs at a time.
  • Only the female Aedes mosquitoes bite due to needing the protein in blood to develop their eggs.

Zika Virus Symptoms

Zika Virus Symptoms

After being bit by a mosquito carrying the virus, about one in five individuals will become ill. Common symptoms for those with the virus are rash, fever, joint pain, headache and muscle pain. Zika virus symptoms last from a few days to a week from being bitten. The viral infection tends to last in a person's bloodstream for about a week, however, for some people it could be longer.

Zika Virus Diagnosis

Zika Virus Diagnosis

If you experience any of the symptoms described above, it is extremely important that you see your healthcare provider as soon as possible. Additionally, if you have recently traveled or are traveling for spring break, let your family's Iowa health care provider know where and when you have traveled. If you have traveled recently, your healthcare provider may order specialized blood tests to look for the Zika virus or similar viral infections.

Zika Virus Prevention

Zika Virus Prevention

There are no vaccines that currently exist to prevent the Zika virus. However, if your Iowa family is traveling, a great way to prevent your loved ones from contracting the disease is to utilize Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - registered repellents. Additionally, pack long sleeve shirts and pants, sleep under a mosquito net if you are overseas, and check to make sure you are staying in a location with air conditioning.

Curious about more Zika virus prevention tips and tricks? Check out the CDC's mosquito bite and prevention for travelers guide.

Zika Virus Locations

Over the last year the United States experienced local mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission. With that being said, it is important to take precaution against the viral infection while traveling. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these are the states that have reported Zika cases.

Zika Virus in the United States

Zika Virus Travel Advisory

To help your family avoid contracting and bringing the viral infection back with you from vacation, refer to Zika travel information provided by the CDC.

Want to Know More About the Zika Virus?

Our technicians would be more than happy to help you with any questions you may have regarding the virus and the Aedes species of mosquito that spreads it. For further insight on the Zika virus and consistent updates head on over to the CDC.