Summer may not officially begin until June 20 but that isn’t stopping mosquitoes from bugging our outdoor activities. With the summer months quickly approaching, we are reminded of those pesky insects and the importance of staying protected from their itchy bites, especially in the midst of Zika; a mosquito transmitted virus.
So what do you need to know about Zika? Transmitting the Zika virus is of low risk to Iowans.
Surprised? Well, the explanation is simple. Mosquitos known to transmit the virus are not native to Iowa, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health. While there have been seven confirmed cases of Zika in Iowa, the effected people had traveled to areas where transmitting the virus was possible. So, the most realistic threat of transmitting the virus would be for anyone traveling to countries where Zika is actively being transmitted. Areas of concern include:
Iowans who should be cautious of the Zika virus include women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. This is because exposure to the virus during pregnancy can have negative results for the baby. The main concern for these women would be traveling or if someone they know recently traveled, because the Zika virus can be sexually transmitted. Women who are planning to become pregnant should be aware of a partner who traveled to an area with the virus because the pregnancy can still be affected. Women who are already pregnant are encouraged to postpone traveling to areas where the virus is active, regardless of trimester.
The current focus on viruses carried by mosquitoes does bring an opportunity for Iowans to brush-up about staying protected from a virus more relevant to our area, the West Nile Virus. According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, Iowa has had between five and 44 cases of West Nile reported each year since 2005. West Nile Virus is reported more in Iowa because mosquitoes here transmit West Nile, and other viruses.
With summer around the corner, it is important to know how to protect you and your family from mosquito bites and transmitting viruses such as the West Nile Virus. In addition, understanding how to prevent mosquitoes from breeding is a proactive step in protecting against bites.
Use DEET-containing insect repellants when outside
When outside, wear long sleeves and long pants when possible
Avoid being outside during dusk and dawn as this is when mosquitoes are out
Fix window screens or screened-in porches to keep mosquitoes out of your home
Get rid of standing water to eliminate potential breeding grounds for mosquitoes
For more information about the Zika virus, visit https://idph.iowa.gov/ehi/zika
. To learn about West Nile virus, see https://idph.iowa.gov/cade/disease-information/west-nile-virus
Written by Miranda Jones, GRMC summer intern