RICHMOND, Va. -- There have been outbreaks of Zika virus around the world. The latest numbers are out for cases in Virginia and experts say that number could rise.
The virus is spread to people by mosquitoes, but there are some cases where it was sexually transmitted.
“Normally this time of year my neighborhood is infested with Asian tiger mosquitoes. They are the worst mosquito in Virginia,” David Gaines said.
Gaines would know. He is the State Public Health Entomologist with the Virginia Department of Health.
He explains that Asian tiger mosquitoes specifically are the ones that can carry the Zika virus.
As of Thursday, May 26, 2016, VDH has reported 18 cases of Zika virus disease in Virginia residents to the CDC (2 in Northwest Region, 9 in Northern Region, 1 in Eastern Region, 4 in Central Region and 2 in Southwest Region).
Gaines said, “Eighteen cases I can't say if that's a large number because this is the first year we've ever had Zika... imported cases coming in from the tropics.”
He says right now the only cases in Virginia involve people who brought the virus from other countries.
The state is still warning residents to be prepared and help eliminate the mosquitoes that can carry it.
This type of mosquito doesn’t come from rivers or ponds. They do not come from any habitat other than containers.
“If you eliminate the containers on your property and your neighbor eliminates containers from their property and everybody cooperates and works together we could have very few Asian-tiger mosquitos flying around this summer,” Gaines said.
According to Gaines, that type of mosquito likes to feed during daylight hours in warm weather. They also like to bite your legs or feet, and they tend to stay out of your field of vision. For that reason, Gaines recommends pants, socks, and shoes to protect yourself.
Repellents are another option. He prefers to use those with Picaridin as the active ingredient rather than DEET.
Gains said it works for Asian tiger mosquitoes and it doesn’t have a strong smell or irritate the skin.