This time last year the summer Olympics were less than four months away, and you couldn’t turn on the news without the Zika virus popping up. The entire world was focused on who was going, who had backed out because of the mosquito-borne illness, and whether or not they should even be held at all since Brazil was such a hot spot for the Zika virus. But the band played on and all seemed to go fairly smoothly, and soon the talk of this Zika virus appeared to die down as quickly as it flared. Does that mean that the Zika virus is no longer a threat? Not hardly.
ZIKA VIRUS STATISTICS AND TRAVEL WARNINGS
As of March 1st, 2017, there have been more than 5,000 reported cases of Zika in the United States. The Pan American Health Organization states the weekly average of Zika cases in the Caribbean is 651, and in South America, the average is 6,164. With no vaccine available at present, it is imperative to consider your contact with mosquitoes when traveling, especially if you are a woman at the childbearing age.
ZIKA VIRUS AFFECTS AMERICANS
You should always check the CDC’s travel page when planning an out of country trip. It will be updated with the latest information. Dr. Anne Schuchat of the CDC tells NPR that they see “30 to 40 Zika cases in pregnant women each week in the US.” This is not last year but at present. In 2016, of 970 completed pregnancies in women with the Zika virus, 51 babies were born with birth defects, and 77 pregnancies were lost. Most of these women caught the virus while traveling in Latin America or the Caribbean. It is also important to remember that Zika caught in a foreign country can be brought to the US and transferred to other humans as well. Mosquito protection and up-to-date information are incredibly important tools.
SCIENTIST CONTINUE STUDYING ZIKA VIRUS
Local newspapers and television news programs may have let the Zika virus fall off the radar, but luckily for us, scientists have not. There is a team of researchers from Baylor College, Rice University, Texas Children’s Hospital, and our own Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology working together to use a new faster and cheaper way of developing genomes, to put together the exact DNA pattern of the Aedes aegyptimosquito. By identifying this pattern, they can find weaknesses and vulnerabilities in the mosquito that spreads the Zika virus. This new method of DNA sequencing, called 3D genome assembly, is something the group has been working on for the sake of being able to quickly create genomes for sick patients, tumors, and other species on the planet. When the Zika outbreak began, the need to use the latest methods for researching the Zika vector was quickly apparent. All research tells us that the virus is here to stay until science can find a way to eradicate it. We will continue to look to MIT for their findings.
Until then we must be diligent in keeping ourselves protected abroad and at home. Protective clothing, the correct bug spray, following the 5T’s of Mosquito control: these are important safety measures as the season begins. At Mosquito Squad of Leominster we are dedicated to keeping you up to date with the latest information. It is also our goal to keep your home a safe and fun place to be. Our barrier sprays is most effective in controlling 85-90% of mosquitoes on your property. Let us help you lower the risks of mosquito-borne illness at your home. Call today!