With recent Zika virus cases uncovered in Florida, measures to control the mosquito population and protect Floridians have increased.
Gov. Scott Calls on CDC to Prepare State for the Zika VirusBy Cara Glass and Deshlee Ford
Gov. Rick Scott has asked the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to provide 1,000 Zika antibody tests in order to accurately test individuals. Currently, the state of Florida is only able to test 475 people.
Scott has also asked the CDC to conduct a conference call among Florida hospital workers to help inform them of the symptoms, treatments and preventative measures of the virus, according to a press release.
The Zika virus originated in South America and has been transmitted through infected blood or sexual contact.
Although, the virus can be transmitted sexually, experts believe the primary mode of transmission is through mosquitos.
With over 3,500 species of mosquitoes, only two types are confirmed to transmit Zika virus to humans- the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, according to Nathan Burkett-Cadena, an assistant professor and mosquito ecologist at the University of Florida.
“We have these mosquitoes all throughout Florida, but without the virus, they are nothing more than just a nuisance,” Burkett-Cadena
If a person lives within the portion of the world where these mosquitoes are found and where these mosquitoes are common, he or she should be aware of them and all the viruses they transmit, Burkett-Cadena said.
While the Zika virus can infect anyone, pregnant women are of the most concern because they are the most vulnerable to the virus, said gynecologist Nigel Spier.
Zika can cause birth defects among newborn babies such as microcephaly. In its worse form, it can also result in iliolumbar syndrome, in which the virus infects the nerve tissue and causes paralysis.
But despite the dangers of the virus, it is rare, Spier said.
“Zika virus must be in a specific form in order for it to multiply into the bloodstream,” Spier said. “And even if it does, most people won’t be affected any worse than a common cold.”
Common symptoms may include fever, rash muscle aches or due to the lack of accurate testing, there is currently not a sufficient way to determine if one has been infected, but there are ways to prevent receiving the virus and spreading it, according to Spier.
It is best to avoid leaving paint buckets and open containers outside, as these objects collect water — the breeding haven for Aedes mosquitos. Standing water contributes to the population of mosquitoes and the over-all transmission of the virus, according to Burkett-Cadena.
The Gainesville Mosquito Control has been using B&G Traps in order to help monitor the Aedes albopictus mosquito population — the one potential mosquito in Gainesville that can carry or transmit the virus.
“The population is very low right now. [But] it can change next week,” said medical entomologist Peter Jiang.
Jiang said the key to prevention is limiting exposure to mosquitoes, which will decrease the likelihood of getting bitten.
Protective actions include the use of bug repellents and long sleeve clothing. Homeowners can also ensure that their properties are not responsible for breeding these mosquitoes.
“Eliminating the breeding sites is the number one way to fight the mosquitos who can carry Zika virus,” Burkett-Cadena said.