Our hearts go out to all those experiencing the devastating effects of the recent hurricanes. In the days after a hurricane when there is widespread flooding, mosquitoes can lay eggs in the left over water. This increases the mosquito population and some of these mosquitoes may spread viruses like Zika.
According to the CDC, “although flooding caused by hurricanes can be severe and an increase in mosquito populations is expected in the coming weeks, CDC does not expect to see an increase in the number of people getting sick from diseases spread by mosquitoes, but will work closely with state and local health officials to monitor the situation.”
Studies show that hurricanes and floods themselves typically do not cause an increase in the spread of viruses. After floods though, more people are spending time outside cleaning up, so they have more exposure to mosquitos. Mosquito bites are the most common way Zika spreads. You can get infected from a mosquito that carries the Zika virus, and a mosquito can get the virus by biting an infected person. The mosquito can then pass the virus by biting someone else.
Zika is a virus that can cause serious problems during pregnancy. Zika infection during pregnancy can cause a birth defect called microcephaly and other brain problems.
How can you protect yourself?
- Use an EPA registered insect repellant. If the product contains DEET, make sure it has at least 20 percent DEET. Don’t put bug spray or lotion on your skin under clothes.
- Wear a hat, long sleeves, long pants, shoes and socks.
- Keep windows and front doors closed,
- Remove still water from inside and outside your home or workplace. Check flowerpots, buckets, animal water bows and children’s pools. Clean them and turn them over so they don’t collect water.
- If you are sleeping outside or in a room without screens on the windows or doors, buy a mosquito bed net. Get one that’s approved by the World Health Organization Pesticide Evaluation Scheme (also called WHOPES) and that’s treated with permethrin. If you use a net with permethrin, don’t wash it or put it in the sun.
If you need up-to-date information about caring for babies and children with congenital Zika syndrome, contact Zika Care Connect (ZCC). ZCC helps you find services and providers. You can search the database by things like location, kind of provider, the language the provider speaks and the insurance the provider takes. Use Zika Care Connect to find the right providers to take care of your baby.
We will check for updates as disaster relief efforts continue. Have questions? Text or email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.