There is an uptick in the number of Zika cases in the U.S. and University of Nebraska Medical Center’s infectious diseases expert Dr. Mark Rupp says there have been about 15 and 20 cases reported in people in southern Florida who have not traveled to South or Central America. That likely means the Zika virus is likely being transmitted by mosquitoes in that area.
Dr. Rupp says the mosquito that is known for spreading the Zika virus is not found in Nebraska but we do have the Egyptian Tiger mosquito that can spread it. it is not as good of a vector as the mosquito found in Florida but there is a chance it can spread the virus as well. The virus can also be spread through sexual contact.
Dr. Rupp says, “There is one of those questions that continues to be asked is where people harbor the virus and how long can the virus be present in the body. So for in men it appears that it can be harbored in seminal fluid for a longer period of time than you can find it in the blood stream or certain other body fluid. There is some data that suggests that might be as long as two or three months.”
The Zika virus is only dangerous for those who are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant because it can cause birth defects. Those individuals should pay close attention to travel advisories and change their plans accordingly. Dr. Rupp says those individuals should watch carefully for Zika travel advisories and avoid those areas. In others it can cause mild flu-like symptoms.
There is also concern that some people may not travel to Rio for the 2016 Olympics. Dr. Rupp says it is winter in Brazil so the number of mosquitos has dropped dramatically. Dr. Rupp says another thing that is working in our favor in the Florida region is these mosquitos don’t travel very far. They stay within a few hundred feet of where they are hatched. This is why it is important to get rid of standing water on property. Doing that and spraying for mosquitos should take care of the problem fairly quickly.