Colorado’s spring snow and chilly nights keep mosquitoes away a little longer than warmer states, but it’s just a matter of time before warmer days and spring rain bring a return of the pesky insects. And this year, that raises public concerns about Zika virus.
For Coloradans, the risk of contracting Zika virus is lower than in many other states, especially those in the South. Even so, public health experts say summer may bring potential clusters of the disease throughout the U.S. Fort that reason, they say people should not panic but should take basic precautions and continue to stay informed.
Earlier this month, the link between the Zika virus and microcephaly in infants was confirmed. Scientists are studying the full range of other potential health problems that a Zika virus infection during pregnancy may cause. Nationally, Congress is currently debating whether to put nearly $2 billion into emergency preparedness efforts to combat the disease, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and numerous state health agencies are preparing for more cases of the disease in the U.S. than we’ve seen to date.
So far, there have been no locally acquired cases in Colorado. The biggest risk is travel to countries where the virus is prevalent and through sexual transmission. The CDC has issued travel notices for countries in Central and South America, The Caribbean and Pacific Islands. If you are considering travel, click here to view the latest travel notices.
Mosquito transmission occurs primarily through the Aedes species of mosquito, which does not live in Colorado, but experts have not ruled out the possibility of local mosquitoes transmitting the disease from an infected traveler who returns home. For this reason, the CDC urges people to take the usual precautions to protect against mosquitoes.
- Using a repellant with Deet
- Wearing long-sleeved clothing and pants to limit skin exposure
- Staying in air conditioned spaces as much as possible
- Avoiding areas where mosquitoes congregate – like standing water and tall grasses
Testing for Zika virus in Colorado is not being performed unless one of the following criteria apply to you:
- Anyone who has traveled to an affected area and developed a fever, rash, conjunctivitis or other illness within two weeks of the trip.
- Pregnant women who have had unprotected sex with a male partner who has been diagnosed with the Zika virus infection.
- Women who became pregnant and had Zika virus exposure during the eight weeks before conception.
- Asymptomatic pregnant women with a history of travel to an area with local Zika virus transmission.
To learn more, check out Time magazine’s recent Q&A with CDC Chief Dr. Thomas Frieden.