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What Parents Need to Know about the Florida Zika Virus

Submitted by on May 18, 2016 – 3:18 PMNo Comment
What Parents Need to Know about the Florida Zika Virus

Chances are good that you’ve heard at least a little about the Zika virus on the news, online, or even in your Facebook feed. However, very few people truly understand the virus and its impact here in the United States, or even what experts predict for the future. Here’s everything parents should know about the Florida Zika virus.

What Is the Zika Virus?

The Zika virus is responsible for Zika fever, which is generally a very mild febrile illness that is transmitted by mosquitos. Infected persons can also pass it to others via sexual contact or through blood transfusions. Although it has been identified in several countries around the world, including Mexico and South America, which are startlingly close to home, no cases of local transmission have been reported in the United States outside of Puerto Rico to date. While some cases have been reported in different parts of the country, every patient was an individual who had recently traveled to an area known to have mosquitos carrying the Zika virus.

The Latest on the Florida Zika Virus

According to an article from CBS News published only yesterday, mosquito controllers in Florida are reporting that while there are no confirmed cases of Zika transmission in Florida as of yet, they believe that Zika is knocking on Florida’s door. More than 100 cases of Florida Zika virus have been confirmed, but of those, all patients had left the country recently and all 100 are believed to be travel-related. Nonetheless, in Broward County, Florida, controllers are receiving more than 500 calls each day requesting mosquito spraying. That’s 10 times the usual amount for this time of year.

The Potential Danger

Zika symptoms only affect only one in five people who are infected, and the symptoms include a rash, joint pain, eye redness, and mild to moderate fever. Although this doesn’t sound incredibly threatening, the primary concern is for pregnant women who are bitten by infected mosquitoes. That’s because the Zika virus causes a serious birth defect known as microcephaly, in which infants are born with underdeveloped brains and very small heads. What’s more, the species of mosquito that carries the virus, Aedes aegypti, is abundant all year long in Florida, and the Sunshine State is home to a multitude of travelers coming from countries where Zika is prevalent.

Protecting Yourself and Your Family

If you are concerned about the Florida Zika virus and your health, be aware that there are several steps you can take to protect yourself and your family.

  • Remove any sources of standing water around your home, including from clogged gutters or children’s toys. Mosquitos lay their eggs in still, standing water, and these hatch in just a few days.
  • Use screens to cover doors and windows, and consider purchasing mosquito nets for camping trips.
  • Make use of citronella products when you will spend time outdoors, and purchase mosquito repellants that contain at least 25% DEET or at least 20% picaridin.

Although experts feel confident that the Florida Zika virus is still under control, the truth is that with more than 100 infected patients and an abundance of the mosquitos capable of carrying the virus, it is best to protect yourself and your family from this potential epidemic.

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