Aedes mosquitoes, such as A. aegypti and A. albopictus, are known as Zika mosquitoes and are a primary cause of the Zika virus health emergency as they are the vehicle of transmission for the disease. The Zika virus, also known as the Zika fever or Zika virus disease, is a member of the Flaviviridae virus family. This disease is spread usually by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito, but can also be spray by blood transfusions or sexual contact. The Zika virus is found in the Pacific Islands and parts of Africa but has become a health crisis in several South and Central American countries and some Caribbean islands. In 2016 the United States saw their first reported cases of Zika raising alarms to control and kill off the mosquitoes carrying the virus.
Characteristics of the Aedes Mosquito
There are a few main characteristics of Zika carrying Aedes mosquitoes that make them different than other species. First, the Zika carrying Aedes mosquito is unlike many other mosquitoes that tend to live in tropical jungles to breed in natural water sources. These Zika mosquitoes tend to live in built-up areas (urban) where they find areas of stagnant water to lay their eggs. The second interesting fact is that only the female mosquitoes bite. They feed mainly on the protein of human blood. Lastly, these mosquitoes feed in the day and the night. Mosquito nets are not an effective prevention method. One of the only insect repellent products that have seemed to work somewhat is DEET. Always make sure to have an insect repellent that is approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
When someone becomes infected with the Zika virus, they are likely to show no symptoms at all or sometimes just mild symptoms. Some symptoms include body pain, rash, fever, conjunctivitis, or a headache. These symptoms can last for several days or up to a week or more. Although people usually do not get sick enough to be hospitalized, others are affected by it harder. The ones usually most at risk by this virus are pregnant women. Contracting Zika while you’re pregnant can cause microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects. Other congenital disabilities caused by this virus include hearing issues, eye defects, and growth problems. There have been reports of the increase of Guillain-Barré syndrome, caused by the Zika virus. Many biopharma companies and other institutions are hard at work to bring a cheap, safe, and effective vaccine to market.
There a few tips to prevent being infected by these mosquitoes. The first tip would be to wear proper clothing. Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants as well as treating your clothing and gear with permethrin or buying pre-treated items. Secondly, insect repellent is a good investment. Like mentioned earlier, DEET is one of the better insect repellents. Lastly, at home, make sure to stay in places with air conditioning, windows, and door screens that keep mosquitoes outside.
Another good option is to hire a mosquito control company or to hire a pest control or lawn service company that also offers a mosquito control program. These programs mist the trees and shrubs around your property with a pesticide that kills off mosquitoes when they make contact with the chemical. The treatments are very effective until it rains, and the chemicals are diluted and washed off to the ground.
Georgia’s First Case
On February 3, 2016, AJC.com reported that the Georgia Department of Health confirmed the first traveled-related case of the Zika virus in Georgia. The infected person was tested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the results came back positive for the Zika virus. It was unclear how the Georgia traveler got the virus. The individual made a full recovery.