NCAP's Statement About the Zika Virus

Keeping informed about disease outbreaks and how to protect you and your family is important. Vectors such as mosquitoes can transmit disease. Zika virus is one of many vector-borne diseases and is primarily transmitted by aedes species mosquitoes. Zika virus is spreading and is being linked to birth defects in babies born to women who have contracted the disease while pregnant.

mosquito.jpgCurrently, there is no specific treatment for the virus, nor is there a vaccine. Zika virus can be contracted through the bite of an infected mosquito, through blood transfusions, through sexual contact, and from mother to child during pregnancy.

While the incubation period of Zika virus is unknown, it is thought to be from a few days to a week long. Symptoms include fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, and headache. Symptoms tend to be mild and last from 2-7 days.

About 20% of people with Zika virus actually get ill from the virus. Severe disease that requires hospitalization is uncommon. Death due to the virus is rare. According to both the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), Zika virus infection during pregnancy may cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly, as well as other severe fetal brain defects. Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections (CDC).

In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infection in Brazil. On February 1, 2016, WHO declared Zika virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). Local transmission has been reported in many other countries and territories. Zika virus will likely continue to spread to new areas.

The Aedes mosquitoes that transmit Zika virus are also able to transmit dengue and Chikungunya viruses. These mosquitoes are daytime biters, but can also bite at night. Aedes mosquitoes tend to lay their eggs near or in standing water, so reducing these sources can be a way to reduce mosquito populations near your home. NCAP encourages prevention methods as part of pest management to reduce the number of mosquitos and prevent pesticide use. This includes removing standing water from bird fountains, garden pots, tires, or anywhere that mosquitoes may breed. Public education on mosquito abatement and control are also important.

To protect yourself from mosquito bites, wear light colored clothing that covers as much skin as possible, use least toxic insect repellents (many contain botanical oils as the active ingredients), use screening on doors and windows, and if sleeping outside, use mosquito netting.

Occurrence of Zika virus in the United States

  • To date, no locally acquired mosquito-borne Zika virus disease cases have been reported in USA, but there have been travel-associated cases (CDC, WHO)
  • Eight countries have now reported evidence of person-to-person transmission of Zika virus, in the absence of mosquito-borne transmission including Argentina, Chile, France, Italy, New Zealand, Peru, Portugal and the United States of America (WHO). 
  • With the recent outbreaks, the number of Zika cases among travelers visiting or returning to the United States will likely increase.
  • 80% of cases will not be diagnosed.
  • These imported cases could result in local spread of the virus in some areas of the United States (CDC). 
For more information on the Zika virus, please see the CDC website.

Additional information and Resources: 

Mosquito protection strategies

IPM strategies to reduce mosquito populations

Zika Health-Related Information from the World Health Organization and the Mayo Clinic:

Zika Factsheet  /  Zika FAQ

For Travelers concerned about Zika:

Center for Disease Control Travel Information

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  • Forrest Arnold
    commented 2016-04-30 19:46:12 -0700
    I was distressed by the “IPM strategies to reduce mosquito populations” section under the “Additional Information and Resources”. Although it mentions the rational actions to reduce mosquito breeding grounds and using repellents, when it comes to using insecticides for killing adult mosquitoes, it does not stress the hazards, ineffectiveness and stupidity of using pesticide sprays and fogs. Pesticide sprays are not effective since they only kill a fraction of adults targeted even though the public perception is that all, and only, mosquitoes are being killed. But, they do kill all sorts of non-target and beneficial insects and animals that eat these poisoned insects, throwing nature out of balance without solving the problem. Forget keeping poisons off of flowers to protect bees when you are killing them for days outright in the air with indescriminent broadcast spraying. These pesticide sprays also dose us humans that breathe them, worsening asthma and causing other health problems.
    It must be stressed that spraying is ineffective to avoid the knee jerk reaction to spray. Every news report of the foreign countries shows people in moon-suits with respirators fogging down every possible building as if this was the very next obvious step to be taken here in the US. The pesticide companies are preparing their trucks to carry their money to the bank knowing that the public is being wooed into this folly. Hundreds of thousands of people die each year from flu, and yet, we are being prepared to dose ourselves with poisons, that are ineffective, to try to avoid a fraction of these deaths. Microencephaly is a horrible malady and should be dealt with in a rational manner. However, after we kill the environment with sprays, and we see again, time after time, that this did not even work, we will remind ourselves that we need to focus on solutions that actually work.
  • Rachel Chaput
    commented 2016-04-29 13:14:07 -0700
    there is a lot of controversy about the Zika virus and its connection to microcephaly and other severe health effects. How Zika went from a virus barely worth mentioning, to being an international health emergency, i think deserves some real scrutiny. Larvicides applied in Brazil are one theory about the cause of the microcephaly pandemic there, and in the international rush to buy out the pesticide manufacturers’ stocks, we need to remember the concept of sustainability. we are already poisoning ourselves nearly off the planet. is blitzing every remaining mosquito and water body to protect every last human, really the best solution?