Will Zika be a Problem this Spring and Summer?

Last year when Zika, (the virus associated with birth defects and microcephaly), became a clear threat to humans in South America and Central America, scientists used computer models along with the assistance of meteorologists and entomologists to predict where local transmission of Zika in the continental United States was most likely to occur. As of today, the only documented cases of viral transmission from a mosquito to a human in the continental United States have taken place in southern Florida and Brownsville, Texas. That’s precisely what the best models indicated.

 

According to Science Insider, “If history repeats itself, as winter approaches and cold weather reduces populations of the Aedes aegypti mosquito—Zika’s main vector—this transmission likely will stop and resurface late next spring.”

 

Does that mean that there will be fewer mosquitoes with the zika virus in the spring or emerge stronger than ever? Tropical mosquito varies, such as the ones carrying the dreaded Zika virus, perish in cold temperatures. Unfortunately, the strains inhabiting the Mid-Columbia are made of sterner stuff. We will all have to wait until the spring weather begins in earnest to see what the results will be. Spring weather plays a bigger role in determining if mosquito eggs hatch and become breeding adults. Mosquito eggs hatch when the temperatures rise. But a warm up followed by another freeze could kill the larvae before they can mature and mate. Or the weather could simply warm up enough to produce hatching and stay that way.

 

The Center for Disease Control still maintains recommendations if traveling into a zika prone area including:

  • Travel information from the CDC including maps and strategies
  • Talk to your doctor or other healthcare provider first, if you must travel to an area with Zika.
  • Prevent mosquito bites, including covering up arms and legs and using EPA-registered insect repellent, which is safe to use during pregnancy.
  • Use latex condoms, the right way, every time or choose not to have any type of sex if the male partner has been in an area with Zika during the pregnancy.

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