While it has been around for many decades, Zika virus gained worldwide notoriety leading up to the 2016 summer Olympic games. Originally discovered in the 1950’s, it was reported in parts of South America in 2015, right before the 2016 summer Olympic Games were held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Many Olympic athletes were concerned about contracting the virus during the Games. But while it is a concern in South American, should we worry about Zika Virus in Ontario?
Zika virus is a viral infection spread by the bite of infected mosquitoes. Not all mosquitoes carry and spread Zika virus – only Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitos are known carriers.
Zika virus was first discovered in 1947 in the Zika Forest of Uganda, and then reported in the southwestern Pacific Ocean in 2007. In 2015, the virus was reported in South America, and shortly thereafter, widespread outbreaks were reported across Central and South America, Mexico and the Caribbean.
75 – 80% of people who contract Zika virus don’t exhibit any symptoms at all.
For those that do exhibit symptoms of Zika virus, they are usually quite mild: fever, joint and muscle pain, skin rash, conjunctivitis and headaches. Symptoms usually appear within three to 12 days, and last two to seven days.
There is no known treatment for Zika virus. In more severe cases, doctors may prescribe medications to reduce or manage the symptoms.
There have been reports of rare cases of microcephaly in women who contracted Zika virus during pregnancy. Microcephaly is a condition in which the baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age. As such, it is recommended that any women who are pregnant or could get pregnant discuss any travel plans to infected regions before they travel.
Non-travel related cases of Zika virus in Ontario are very rare. As of June 2017, only four of the 295 laboratory-confirmed cases do not include travel to South or Central American countries. These cases may have been transmitted sexually or through contact with the blood of an infected person.
Zika virus is not a high risk in Ontario because the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes are not established here. Our climate is too cold and our summers too short for these species to establish a significant presence.
But while Zika virus is not a significant concern in Ontario, our indigenous mosquito population is known to spread other diseases and viruses such as West Nile virus, Lyme disease, and eastern equine encephalitis virus, so it is still worthwhile taking preventative measures or to have outside of your home sprayed to prevent mosquitoes from becoming a pest or threat to your family and friends.
Laboratory-confirmed cases of Zika virus in Ontario are very rare – Ontarians who have contracted Zika virus have almost always travelled to South and Central American countries where Zika virus is present.
But while Ontarians don’t really need to worry about Zika virus, there are other diseases that we should be aware of, and even non-infected mosquitoes are a nuisance for family and friends.
So, if you’re looking to keep your backyard mosquito-free this summer, check out our tick & mosquito control service! It’s fast, child and pet friendly, and we guarantee our results! Call or email us today for a no-obligation quote!
And always remember …