Health officials confirmed on July 22, 2016, that a baby in New York City was born with a birth defect as a result of the Zika virus. The child's mother was infected with the virus while traveling in an area with ongoing Zika transmission, officials said in a statement.
While no one has reported contracting the virus via mosquito bite within the continental U.S., officials are asking everyone to take precautions to avoid contracting the disease, which could continue to spread.
Here are recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how to avoid contracting the Zika virus:
Prevent mosquito bites.
Zika virus is mainly transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito, so avoiding mosquitoes and wearing repellent are important to avoiding bites.
Spray your clothes, too.
Your T-shirt is not a suit of armor, so it’s important to treat clothing with bug repellent. Applying permethrin, a chemical commonly used in insect repellents and available in many drugstores, to clothing, shoes, tents and other gear will help protect from mosquitoes. Some stores also offer clothing pre-treated with the chemical.
Treat the outside of your home ...
Places with standing water are hot spots for mosquitoes. Empty any items that have collected water outside your home and tightly cover water storage containers. Larvicides can be used to treat larger containers that do not contain drinking water.
… and the inside.
Opt for the air conditioner over an open window or door when it’s hot, and make sure none of your window screens have holes in them.
Plan your travels.
Zika virus has been reported in 50 countries, most of which are popular vacation destinations in the Americas. When planning a trip, find out if the destination has reported any cases of the virus.
However, the virus “will continue to spread,” the CDC says, so caution should still be taken if a country has not yet reported any cases.
While the Zika virus is primarily transmitted by an infected mosquito, it can also be spread through unprotected sex. The CDC advises to always use a condom during sexual intercourse. If you have the virus, you could transmit it to sexual partners, so using protection is critical.
Recognize the signs.
Many who contract the disease will not show any signs of illness, or will exhibit only mild symptoms, like joint or muscle pain, headaches, fever, red eyes and rashes on the skin. Those who have visited locations that have reported cases of the virus and who are displaying symptoms should be checked by a doctor.