RICHMOND, Va. — Governor Terry McAuliffe is urging Virginia residents to take precautions against the Zika virus as mosquito season approaches.
In a Wednesday press release, McAuliffe announced mosquito season begins May 1 in Virginia.
The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne illness that “poses a significant threat to many of our state’s most vulnerable population – pregnant women and the unborn,” said the Virginia Department of Health (VDH).
“With mosquito season upon us, prevention is the key to combating the threat of Zika virus,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Citizens across Virginia have the power to stop the spread of Zika whether they are at home, in their neighborhoods, or even when traveling abroad. We need everyone’s help to cut down mosquito populations and avoid mosquito bites as we move into summer.”
Experts say the Zika virus is usually mild lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito, and severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon
The CDC has confirmed there is a direct link between the Zika virus infection in pregnant women and birth defects. Sexual transmission has also been documented. There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika virus at this time.
“Zika virus protection starts with the individual,” said Secretary of Health and Human Resources Dr. Bill Hazel. “It’s important for people to use insect repellent and eliminate even small amounts of standing water. Virginians need to take this health threat seriously and follow the precautions recommended by VDH and by the Governor’s Zika Task Force.”
- The CDC offered some additional tips to protect you:
- Remove standing water from around your home. Mosquitoes like to lay their eggs in those kinds of places.
- If you plan to travel out of the country, be cautious.
- Use insect repellent
- Wear long sleeves and pants.
Pregnant women are strongly encouraged to avoid travel to areas of the world with active Zika virus transmission if they can; up-to-date travel advisory information can be found on the CDC website.
“As a state, Virginia has ramped up efforts to protect people from Zika virus and we have quickly implemented Zika virus action and prevention plans, anticipating increased mosquito activity and the potential for local transmission,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Marissa J. Levine.
For more information about the Zika virus in Virginia click here.
Richmond ranks high for Zika risk
Richmond is on the list of cities most at risk of Zika virus. A a recent poll revealed that Americans don’t know much about the Zika virus — a disease that many South American countries believe is a serious threat.
“It is not a surprise to me that Richmond is on the list,” said Danny Avula, Director, Richmond City Health District.
Richmond ranks 35 on a list of 50 high-risk U.S. cities, according to healthgrove.com.