Accounts and reports of Zika virus have broken into mainstream American media and are getting the attention of goverment human health agencies as well as the curiosity and concern of average Americans. The Brazilian outbreak and the possible link to the elevated number of cases of infants born with microcephaly (small, underdeveloped head and brain) has prompted health officials to issue strong warnings for pregnant women planning travel to countries where the virus is active. Since May of 2015, as many as 1.5 million Brazilians may be infected with the virus, which is believed to become only mildly symptomatic in about 20% of infected individuals. The concern is largely focused around the unborn babies of pregnant women.
Zika virus is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. A mosquito can acquire Zika after biting an infected human and can then in turn infect other people through its bite. Here in Sutter and Yuba Counties we commonly find Culex tarsalis (known to transmit West Nile virus) and Anopheles freeborni mosquitoes through the summer. But its not just any species that is a competent Zika virus transmitter. The mosquito species of concern are Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. Both are capable of transmitting Zika virus. Although these two invasive species have been detected in California, neither has been detected in Yuba or Sutter County yet. These species of mosquitoes often breed in backyards and even inside homes in small containers such as flower pots, buckets, tires and miscellaneous containers where irrigation or rain water can accumulate. Residents should regularly inspect their property for containers holding water and dump or pour them out.
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