Setting the Facts Straight On The Zika Virus

There has been significant media coverage on the outbreak of the mosquito-transmitted Zika virus and the Sprague Pest Experts wanted to set the record straight on the threat Zika poses and how to protect yourself from mosquitoes should you be traveling to regions where it is present.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been 346 reported cases of travel-associated Zika virus but zero locally acquired cases in the United States. The CDC recently held a Zika Action Plan Summit to help guide state public health leaders regarding actions to consider in developing Zika action plans for their states.

From that meeting the following facts emerged:

Fact: The Zika virus is spread to people through bites from the Aedes species mosquito. Since Aedes species mosquitoes are found throughout the world, it is possible that outbreaks will spread to new countries including the United States.

Fact: Locally transmitted Zika has not been reported in the United States, but cases of Zika have been reported in multiple states in travelers returning from impacted regions.

Fact: About 1 in 5 people infected with Zika virus become ill and the most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache. The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week.

Fact: There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika and the virus has shown to carry a threat of birth defects for pregnant women who are exposed.

Fact: Texas, Florida, and Hawaii are the U.S. states with the highest risk of experiencing local transmission of Zika virus by mosquitoes, based on prior experience with similar viruses. 

Protecting Yourself

The Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention has issued a travel alert for persons traveling to the following countries where Zika has been transmitted: Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Suriname, and Venezuela. The alert strongly recommends pregnant or women trying to become pregnant avoid travel to these regions.

Tips To Prevent Mosquito Bites

  • Use insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide long lasting protection.
  • If you use both sunscreen and insect repellent, apply the sunscreen first and then the repellent.
  • Do not spray insect repellent on the skin under your clothing; treat clothing with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated clothing.
  • When weather permits, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Use air conditioning or window/door screens to keep mosquitoes outside. If you are not able to protect yourself from mosquitoes inside your home or hotel, sleep under a mosquito bed net.
  • Help reduce the number of mosquitoes inside and outside your home or hotel room by emptying standing water from containers such as flowerpots or buckets.

For more information on the Zika virus visit the CDC website at

Stinging Insects: Bees, Hornets & Mosquitos