If the recent news stories about the Zika virus are worrying you, you may be wondering how to protect yourself and your family. Although the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared Zika an international health emergency, it’s very easy for people living in the United States to avoid this virus. Here’s what you need to know.

Pregnant Women Are At Risk

Zika virus only carries a health risk to pregnant women because it appears to cause birth defects in a certain percentage of unborn babies. For anyone who is not pregnant, Zika is a mild, nonhazardous virus. It causes no symptoms whatsoever in 80 percent of the people who catch it. The 20 percent of infected people who do have symptoms tend to have a low-level flu-like illness that goes away after a few days with no treatment.

Avoid Travel To Central And South America

So far, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control are focusing their preventive efforts on issuing travel advisories to Americans. The most important way to protect yourself from exposure to Zika is to avoid traveling to the countries in Central and South America and the Caribbean where the virus is active. If you must make a trip to an infected region, you’re not at any personal risk unless you expect to be pregnant during your trip.

Eliminate Contact With Mosquitoes

If you must be in a region where Zika virus is active, you can avoid almost all risk of contracting the illness by making sure you don’t get bitten by mosquitoes. The best way to do this is by using a combination of physical barriers and chemical protections. Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Stay in places with window and door screens, and sleep under mosquito netting at night. Make sure all your exposed skin is covered with an EPA-certified insect repellent at all times.

Get Rid Of Standing Water In Your Yard

The mosquito species that transmits Zika virus can be found in Maryland, so it’s a good idea for homeowners to make a practice of eliminating any standing water that might help mosquitoes to breed. Eliminate areas of standing water around the home such as flowerpots, birdbaths, baby pools, grill covers, gutters and other objects where water collects. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in water where the larvae develop and need only about 1/2 inch of water to breed.

Use Safe Sex Practices In Zika Regions

New information suggests that Zika may be transmitted via sexual contact, so when you’re in a region where this virus is active, it’s important to remain aware of this potential and use condoms.

Health authorities are still learning about the Zika virus, but with just a bit of knowledge you can be confident that you and your family are safe.

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We can help you take control of mosquitoes by making a detailed inspection of your property. We’ll create a customized mosquito control solution to help resolve the problem quickly. Let us put our knowledge of entomology and our years of experience in the Howard County area to work for you.