Home Contributed Zika AND West Nile Virus Reported In Alabama: Why Aren’t We Alarmed?
Zika AND West Nile Virus Reported In Alabama: Why Aren’t We Alarmed?

Zika AND West Nile Virus Reported In Alabama: Why Aren’t We Alarmed?


This summer, Alabama health officials have been hard at work investigating reports of the Zika and West Nile viruses in Pelham. Luckily, there’s no cause to be alarmed: the diseases weren’t contracted in the United States, according to the health officials in Shelby County.

The three Alabama citizens who contracted the viruses had done so when they ventured outside of the U.S. to endemic areas, including Central and South America. Humans contract these viruses when they are bitten by mosquitos, through sex, and through blood transfusions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Though the Zika virus only causes mild cold-like symptoms and rashes, the real risk is associated with pregnancy. The Zika virus is known to cause birth defects and other issues related to getting pregnant.

While infants born with defects from Zika can survive, they often have a smaller head than expected once they are born. Some are even born with severe microcephaly, where part of the skull has collapsed, leading to possible brain damage. Only 14.1% of adults in America with developmental disabilities are employed. The CDC warns that if you travel to Zika-prone areas, you should wait at least two months before attempting pregnancy. Once the virus is cleared from the blood of the mother, there is no risk of a child suffering the effects of the virus.

The West Nile virus, another virus that is transmitted by mosquitoes, can express its symptoms in one of two ways: either the victim experiences intense reactions, such as brain inflammation, or the person experiences no symptoms of the illness at all. In fact, only one in five people experience fevers, aches, or other symptoms of the virus when they contract it.

Even though Alabamians don’t need to worry about an outbreak of either virus, mosquitoes still harbor a number of diseases that can affect citizens locally.

According to a study by Stanford University, 94% of 244 cities since 1970 have experienced an increased number of so-called “danger days” where mosquitoes are more active. The study implies that the increased levels of mosquitoes and activity are likely due to global warming.

“Birmingham’s risk of disease danger days has increased to 17 based on data from 1970 through 2017 covering the months of March through November. Rates for mosquito-transmitted diseases peak between 79 and 84 degrees,” reports WBRC.

The CDC and health officials have urged citizens to use mosquito repellents including DEET and long-sleeved clothing. They also recommend that citizens clean their gutters of debris to reduce moisture accumulation and remove stagnant water sources from around the home. However, one of the easiest tactics is simply staying inside.

If you do stay inside, however, be sure to utilize an air conditioner to prevent heat stroke. Ensure that your HVAC is working correctly by administering twice yearly maintenance and repairs.

Even though Zika and the West Nile Virus have not yet invaded the United States, practicing precaution against mosquitoes is the best way to keep you and your family safe this summer.