Zika Virus still a concern: Here is what you need to know to be prepared

MADISON COUNTY, Ala. - This time last year, the Zika virus was a major concern in the United States.

The Madison County Health Department says it's still a concern, as the Asian Tiger Mosquito that can carry the virus is common in north Alabama.

"Our biggest concern is for the pregnant women of course. You can get it from the bite of an infected mosquito, but it also can be sexually transmitted as well.  So that's also something to consider."

Cheryl Clay with the Madison County Health Department said almost 1800 pregnant women in the United States have been diagnosed with Zika since 2016.

"The recent study I saw, more than 50 children in the U.S. did have birth defects because of Zika virus," said Clay.

But it's not just pregnant women who are at risk.

The only local transmissions in the United States have been in Miami, Fla. and Brownsville, Tex.

"We have not had local transmission here in Alabama but we still have people traveling to other areas that have active Zika virus transmission going on," said Clay.

If someone is bitten by a mosquito with Zika virus and comes back home, they may spread it here without knowing.

"If they don't avoid mosquito bites for three weeks, even if they have no symptoms, they can spread it to our local mosquito population," explained Clay.

Clay doesn't want to worry people, but does say people should be cautious.

She recommends using a good repellent while outside and encourages you to clean up your property.

All it takes for mosquitoes to breed is just a teaspoon of water.

The health department begins mosquito fogging on may 17th.​ They plan to fog Madison County until October.

If you live in a state or area with the mosquito that spreads the Zika virus and are concerned about Zika, the Centers for Disease Control encourages you to build your own Zika Prevention Kit with the items below. Reducing the risk for Zika is particularly important for pregnant women.

Your kit should include:

 

A bed net used to cover your sleeping area

Bed NetKeep mosquitoes out of your room, day and night. If your room is not well screened, use a bed net when sleeping or resting.  Mosquitoes can live indoors and will bite at any time, day or night.

 

Standing water treatment tabs

Water treatment discsUse water treatment tabs to kill larvae in standing water around your house. Do not put them in water you drink. Always follow directions on the package. When used as directed, these tabs will not harm you or your pets (dogs and cats).

Insect repellent

Insect RepellentInsect repellent will help keep mosquitoes from biting you. Always follow directions on the package. Use only an EPA-registered insect repellent. Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing. If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.
When used as directed, these insect repellents are proven safe and effective even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Permethrin spray

Permethrin spraySpray your clothing and gear with permethrin to help protect yourself from mosquito bites.
Always follow the directions on the bottle. Reapply as directed. Do not spray permethrin on your skin.

Condoms

Condoms

During sex, it is possible to get Zika virus from a person who has Zika. If you have sex (vaginal, anal, or oral) with a partner who may have been exposed to Zika, you should use condoms the right way every time. Follow directions on the box.  Condoms can also help prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Learn how to protect during sex and use condoms correctly. See Condom Dos and Don’ts: English   Spanish