Since the Zika epidemic swept through Latin and South America last year, news about its spread, the way its contracted, and its associated health risks, have helped to increase widespread concern for mosquitos carrying the virus. The virus has been scientifically confirmed to cause Guillain-Barré syndrome, and microcephaly, along with other associations to severe birth defects. So it's understandable why people continue to be concerned, especially women who are pregnant or planning to be in the near future. So, if you've been bitten by a mosquito, you may be wondering whether that mosquito carried the Zika virus. Well, photos of a Zika mosquito bite don't appear to have distinguishing characteristics. But it's important to see a healthcare provider if you believe you've contracted the virus.
According to information provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Zika symptoms may be difficult to spot. Many people who are infected with Zika won't have symptoms. If symptoms, which include fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis, are present, they are likely to be mild, the CDC states. A Zika infection, which can also be sexually transmitted, can be confirmed by a blood or urine test.
Although there is no specific medicine to treat the virus, the CDC lists treatment recommendations for people infected with Zika:
Get plenty of rest.
Drink fluids to prevent dehydration.
Take medicine such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or paracetamol to reduce fever and pain.
Do not take aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) until dengue can be ruled out to reduce the risk of bleeding.
If you are taking medicine for another medical condition, talk to your healthcare provider before taking additional medication.
Until recently, the virus hasn't posed much of a threat in the United States, but recent reports of locally acquired mosquito-borne cases have been a cause for concern in the States. In the Miami-area, cases of local mosquitoes have been detected. On Friday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, announced a newly identified area in Miami Beach where the virus is being transmitted, according to Florida's News 4 Jax.
On Thursday, Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales said officials were focusing on eliminating "potential breeding sites," according to The Washington Post.
"Our strategy has been and will continue to be focusing on the elimination of potential breeding sites and educating our residents and businesses on what they need to do,” Morales said. “We are also working with [Miami-Dade County] and they are also inspecting and as needed mitigating through techniques like cleanups, larvicides and fogging.”
According to the CDC, as of Wednesday, there were 14 locally acquired mosquito-borne cases in the United States. Overall, there's been 2,245 travel-associated cases of the infection in the States.
The CDC recommends that the best way to prevent Zika is to avoid mosquito bites by using insect repellent, wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and to avoid travel in areas where Zika transmission has been detected. It continues to be important to remain informed on the virus and its spread.