Zika virus is a fever-like illness caused by a mosquito-borne virus similar to those that cause dengue and West Nile virus infection. The primary method of Zika transmission between persons is through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus). Zika may also be transmitted via sexual intercourse or, for pregnant women, through the womb.
Only about one in five people infected with Zika exhibit symptoms of the virus. The most common symptoms of Zika are low-grade fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis (red eyes), body aches, headaches, and vomiting. While hospitalization due to Zika is uncommon, Zika infection during pregnancy can lead to significant health concerns for the fetus, including a serious birth defect of the brain known as microcephaly. Because of this, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Florida Department of Health recommend that pregnant women, or women who may become pregnant in the near future, should postpone or avoid travelling to areas where Zika transmission is ongoing.
Escambia County is home to Aedes albopictus (the Asian tiger mosquito), a species that is believed to be capable of transmitting the virus. Therefore, mosquito control is paramount to preventing a Zika outbreak in Pensacola.
The best way to avoid Zika is to prevent mosquito bites. To accomplish this, all Pensacola residents should DRAIN standing water, COVER doors and windows with screens, and COVER skin with clothing and mosquito repellent. Residents should also avoid exposure at dawn and dusk, times when mosquitoes are most active.
Drain standing water to prevent mosquitoes from breeding:
Drain water from garbage cans, buckets, pool covers, coolers, toys, flower pots or any containers where sprinkler water or rainwater has collected.
Discard old tires, drums, bottles, cans, appliances, and other items that are not being used.
Empty and clean birdbaths and pet water bowls at least weekly.
Cover boats and vehicles with tarps to prevent water accumulation.
Maintain swimming pools in good condition with proper chlorination. Empty plastic swimming pools when not in use.
Cover doors and windows with screens:
To keep mosquitoes from entering your home, repair damaged screens on windows, doors, porches, and patios.
If traveling, choose lodging with air conditioning or screens on the windows and doors.
Cover your skin with:
Clothing – If you must be outside when mosquitoes are active, cover up. Wear long pants, long sleeves, socks, and shoes.
Repellent – Apply mosquito repellent to exposed skin and clothing. Repellent with DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus provide longer-lasting protection.
Use mosquito netting when sleeping outside or in a room that is not screened.