Zika is officially in US mosquitoes, and a travel advisory has been issued for Florida. What do we know, and what does it mean for travelers and people in the US?
Mosquitoes infected with Zika are currently limited to a small section of Miami, at least officially. With all the back and forth travel that happens between the US and areas that are thoroughly infected though, it’s a reasonable assumption that there are more pockets out there.
Although about half the US has the right mosquito to carry Zika, it’s more common in some parts, like Florida and other Southern states, than others (Southern California has far less Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, who like it more humid).
Who needs to worry? Anyone—man or woman—who may want to biologically produce a child over the next year (how long the infection lasts and poses reproductive risks keeps getting extended), or anyone who may want to have sex with someone who’s pregnant or who may get pregnant. Zika destroys developing cells, especially brain cells, and has made headlines because of its devastating effect on babies, and Zika can be transmitted sexually, so partners share the infection and the risk.
But there are others who should worry: while most people are robust and healthy and barely notice symptoms, the very young, and old, and people with weakened immune systems are at risk for some nasty side-effects like Guillain-Barre. Older men in particular are (in general, not just with Zika) at risk for Guillain-Barre, but Zika has been strongly linked as a trigger for the illness as well.
Aren’t they spraying mosquitoes? That I’ve read, the best way to get rid of Aedes aegypti is to release “neutered” mosquitoes. China did it, and while every other country has seen these “tropical” illnesses (also including Dengue, Yellow Fever, and Chik-V) spread, China has seen a decline. Current US guidelines for fighting mosquitoes won’t really touch Aedes aegypti since the mosquito is active all day long and lives much closer with humans—right under our beds, in fact.
That means it’s on you. Keep your house, and bedroom in particular, cool if you’re in a region that could potentially host Zika. Although humidity is good for stopping viruses like the flu, it might be worth making your home inhospitable to mosquitoes by picking up a de-humidifier. Human friendly bug sprays applied under your bed and on walls are another option, too.
And of course, take care of yourself! Watch carefully for symptoms, get tested if you’re thinking of getting pregnant, and look into travel advisories before going anywhere.
Don’t forget the big things, like exercise, diet, sleeping well, and de-stressing, which all play important roles in keeping your immune system healthy and active. If you need extra immune support, be sure to pick-up a bottle of colloidal silver!
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