Zika virus disease is a mosquito-borne illness currently spreading throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. It can be transmitted to people through the bite of an infected Asian Tiger mosquito, the most common nuisance mosquito in Virginia.
Most people affected by Zika experience no symptoms or very mild symptoms which could include fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). These symptoms typically last a few days to a week. There is currently no vaccine to prevent and no medicine to treat Zika virus infection; treatment is mostly supportive, so people do not need to see a doctor just because they are bitten by mosquitoes in Loudoun County.
However, Zika has also been linked to a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly in babies of mothers who had Zika virus while pregnant. It is extremely important that pregnant women prevent mosquito bites in any country that has been affected by Zika. If you are pregnant and you or your partner have traveled to a Zika-affected area during your pregnancy see your primary care provider for possible testing.
If you have recently traveled to a Zika-affected country and are thinking about having a baby, please visit the CDC’s guide for women and their partners who are thinking about getting pregnant. It is also recommended that you view the most recent testing criteria for Virginia, as recommended by the Virginia Department of Health. At this time, only those meeting testing criteria can be tested for Zika. If you think you meet the testing criteria, please contact your primary care provider who can consult with the Health Department for testing.
Also, at this time, there is no recommendation for postponing pregnancy in non-travelers. If it appears that our local mosquito populations may become infected, that recommendation may change. Please visit the Loudoun County Health Department’s Web site for timely announcements and updates.
As we enter the warm, Spring weather, here are a few tips to help you prevent mosquito infection and stay safe:
- Use mosquito repellent with at least 20% DEET for pregnant women, other adults and children over 2 months of age
- Wear long sleeves, long pants and socks
- Sleep in rooms with screened windows or air conditioning
- Remove Asian Tiger mosquito breeding grounds. Learn more about how you can reduce mosquito populations around your homes here.
- Consider postponing trips to Zika affected countries if you or your partner is pregnant. A current list of Zika-affected countries can be found on the CDC Web site.
More information is available at www.loudoun.gov/Zika.