How is Zika Transmitted?
The Zika virus is primarily transmitted by the bite of an infected female Aedes egypti mosquito, a species also known to carry yellow fever. The Zika virus is thought to also be transmitted via blood transfusion and sexual contact, and in rare cases from mother to child. Researchers are currently investigating the link between the Zika virus and birth defects including microcephaly.
Are Mosquitoes that Carry the Virus in the U.S.?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are species of mosquitoes with the ability to carry the Zika virus present in several states in the U.S. However, there are currently no recorded cases of infected mosquitoes biting people in U.S., although there are cases reported in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa.
How to Protect Yourself
In order to lay eggs, the female mosquito needs a blood meal. Aedes mosquitoes are considered “day” biters, so it's not enough to simply avoid being outside at dusk. To protect yourself from mosquitoes, wear protective clothing when outside or in the presence of mosquitoes. You may also need to wear repellent as mosquitoes can bite through thin clothing.
Female mosquitoes seek out a suitable habitat to lay eggs, which can be any kind of container that holds less than one cup of water. To eliminate breeding habitat, prevent standing water from accumulating in items such as wheelbarrows, toys, and ceramic pots, etc. Tires are the most common developmental sites for Zika-transmitting mosquitoes in the U.S.
To read more about the Zika virus and how to protect yourself from mosquitoes that may carry the virus, read the National Pest Alert from the Regional IPM Centers. UC IPM's Mosquitoes web page also has videos and other useful information about reducing mosquito breeding sites and protecting yourself and your family from bites.