Recent flooding in Texas has health authorities on high alert. Mosquitoes are more likely to multiple in the ideal conditions flooding provides! With more and more information becoming available regarding the Zika Virus and its various modes of transmission, the status of Zika is changing. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) what started as a mild medical curiosity has turned into a disease with severe public health implications.
As recently as February of this year, researchers and scientists believed Zika to be nothing more serious than a mild disease with flu-like symptoms. However with increasing amounts of evidence confirming that Zika has been linked to congenital birth defects, doctors at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) are asking individuals travelling to affected countries to use extreme caution. Brazil continues to remain the epicenter of Zika induced birth defects with 863 cases of microcephaly, a defect that causes infants to be born with abnormally small heads. Zika has been found in numerous countries across the South Pacific to Mexico.
The ability of the virus to spread so rapidly across other nations has caused major concern in the United States. The CDC has reported that there are over 500 individuals affected with the virus currently residing in the United States and 48 of those affected are pregnant. The highest concentration of sufferers remains in the Gulf Coast area, primarily in Florida where the number of infected individuals stands at 103. In Houston, Texas, 13 individuals including one pregnant women have been diagnosed as suffering from the virus. All of the positive cases of Zika were acquired through travel. To date no cases of Zika have been confirmed through local transmission.
Moving into the summer months, the future is increasingly concerning. The yellow fever (Aedes aegypti) mosquito is responsible for transmitting Dengue and Yellow Fever as well as Zika Virus and thrives in the Gulf Coast States temperate environment. The damp and humid conditions are ideal for mosquitoes to breed, and authorities are concerned that they may see an increase in positive Zika cases through the month of August.
Extreme weather conditions including flooding are an immediate concern in Houston, Texas. The recent rain and subsequent flooding in Housing has removed a large number of mosquitoes since they cannot breed in floodwater, but the aftermath of the erratic weather conditions is a cause of concern for entomologists as mosquitoes prefer stagnant water for breeding. The ability for the mosquito to live in close proximity to humans and adapt to changing conditions has allowed it to reproduce in small areas of water including birdfeeders, spare tires and even puddles of water collecting on your grill cover. The recent flooding in Houston has created new places for mosquitoes to breed across the entire city including your very own backyard.
Despite daily developments, there is still so many unknown variables regarding the virus and authorities believe that prevention is the only sure form of safety. Remove all forms of standing water from your home and contact your local pest control agency for more information. Other than the initial bite of the infected mosquito, humans are capable of spreading the disease in three different ways
• Pregnancy – through the mother to infect the unborn child
• Sexual Contact – An infected male can transfer the virus to his partner, the CDC recommends wearing protection if you are concerned
• Blood Transfusion – Reports are being investigated in other countries where records indicate that 2.8 % of blood donors tested positive for the virus.
For more information about the Zika virus, contact your primary care physician to schedule testing and follow along with Texas Heritage Protection as we strive to provide the latest education and updates.