Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced that as mosquito season begins May 1 in Virginia, it is important for citizens across the Commonwealth to learn about and take the necessary precautions against Zika virus, a mosquito-borne illness that poses a significant threat to many of our state’s most vulnerable population – pregnant women and the unborn. The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has created a Zika website (http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/epidemiology/zika-virus-update/) to be sure the most up-to-date information is readily available to Virginians.
“With mosquito season upon us, prevention is the key to combating the threat of Zika virus,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Citizens across Virginia have the power to stop the spread of Zika whether they are at home, in their neighborhoods, or even when traveling abroad. We need everyone’s help to cut down mosquito populations and avoid mosquito bites as we move into summer.”
Although Zika virus illness is usually mild, lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito, and severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirms there is a direct link between Zika virus infection in pregnant women and birth defects. Sexual transmission has also been documented. There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika virus.
“Zika virus protection starts with the individual,” said Secretary of Health and Human Resources Dr. Bill Hazel. “It’s important for people to use insect repellent and eliminate even small amounts of standing water. Virginians need to take this health threat seriously and follow the precautions recommended by VDH and by the Governor’s Zika Task Force.”
“As a state, Virginia has ramped up efforts to protect people from Zika virus and we have quickly implemented Zika virus action and prevention plans, anticipating increased mosquito activity and the potential for local transmission,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Marissa J. Levine. “In addition to being sure that our health care providers and the general public have the information they need as we all continue to learn about Zika virus and its complications, we are also preparing to distribute a Zika Prevention Pregnancy Kit, filled with the latest educational material, insect repellent and condoms, to help Virginia’s mothers-to-be become aware of what they will need to protect themselves during mosquito season.”
There are many simple actions people can take to minimize the risk of Zika virus disease to themselves and their communities:
- The best way to prevent the diseases spread by mosquitoes is to protect yourself from mosquito bites. You can do this by wearing protective clothing, using insect repellent, and staying in places with air-conditioning and window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
- Pregnant women are strongly encouraged to avoid travel to areas of the world with active Zika virus transmission if they can; up-to-date travel advisory information can be found on the CDC website.
- It’s important that travelers returning to the U.S. from affected areas of the world take steps to prevent mosquito bites for 3 weeks so they don’t pass Zika virus to mosquitoes that could spread the virus to other people.
- Stay up to date on ways to prevent sexual transmission of Zika virus disease; if a man has lived in or has traveled to an area with Zika, and his partner is pregnant, he is advised to use a condom when having sex, or he should refrain from sex during the pregnancy. Please visit the VDH website or the CDC website for the most up-to-date recommendations.
For a list of Zika virus information and prevention measures, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov. For traveler’s health information, visit http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-travel-information.