The Zika virus is in America.
If you’ve been following the news for the past few months, you’ve heard about the Zika virus. Quite a big deal’s been made about the outbreak in South America and how it may impact athletes at the Rio Olympics in Brazil.
But now things are much closer to home. At the beginning of the week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced there was a Zika outbreak in Florida. They’ve even issued a travel advisory. I can imagine a lot of my readers are very concerned at this point.
Zika Outbreak in Florida
But before you get too worked up, let me tell you that the Florida “outbreak” is on a very small scale. Not to mention that the CDC has been predicting a small outbreak of Zika in the U.S. Now that it has hit, authorities expect this outbreak of the virus to be concentrated and easily controlled.
The CDC isn’t particularly shocked about the sudden increase in Zika cases because Florida has a tropical climate similar to affected areas in South America, while also housing two of the mosquito species responsible for carrying and spreading the Zika virus.
It’s expected the outbreak will be small and won’t come even close to the size of what’s going on in South America because of the different living in conditions in Florida, and the U.S. in general. America’s population density, water system, and other infrastructures in place make it much less likely than it is in South America for a large-scale outbreak to occur.
The recent Zika outbreak occurred just north of downtown Miami, in an area only consisting of about one and a half square miles. Officials believe this cluster of Zika cases stems from people being bitten by infection-carrying mosquitos while at work. So far only 14 people have shown symptoms—however, it should be noted that the number was only four a few days prior.
Can You Prevent Zika?
The CDC has advised women who are pregnant or are looking to get pregnant to avoid the area. They also advise that men and women alike use condoms and practice safe sex, as Zika can also be transmitted sexually once one person carries the virus.
If you’re in Florida or another tropical climate in America—Texas, Louisiana, and much of the south come to mind—get proactive and protect yourself from the possibility of Zika infection with some basic measures:
- Apply a good-quality bug repellent on clothing and exposed skin
- Wear long sleeves and pants with bug repellent at night when mosquitoes are more abundant
- Ensure outdoor seating areas are screened in and there are bug nets surrounding the area
- Make sure windows are screened if opened
- Remove trash and standing water from your home and property—these are areas that attract mosquitoes
The Truth About Zika Risk
If this small outbreak grows a little more, don’t panic. It’s not something to drive yourself crazy with worry about. Most people who contract Zika show no symptoms and the rate of birth complications in women with the virus is low, at one percent. And, as I’ve said, it is highly unlikely that this small outbreak will turn into a major epidemic in America and if you understand what’s going on a take those basic measures I talked about, you should have no worries.
Source for Today’s Article
Resnick, B., “CDC issues travel warning as Zika cases rise in Florida. Here’s what you need to know,” Vox web site, August 1, 2016; http://www.vox.com/2016/8/1/12341972/zika-virus-florida-new-cases.