This Friday Florida Governor Rick Scott announced his state was the first to have local transmission of the Zika virus. 4 patients were reportedly infected in Miami-Dade County.
The cases have prompted the FDA to ask blood centers in Miami to stop immediately collecting blood donations. Now the virus appears to be inching even closer to Alabama. Derrick Matthias, a professor of entomology at Auburn University, says it’s easily spread by infected people.
“You have the virus in your blood, and that’s when the mosquito can get it and you only have a window of probably about four days to a week where a person is infectious,” said Matthias.
However, Matthias believes the risk in Alabama is lower because there isn’t as large a population of yellow fever mosquitoes (Aedes Aegypti) and because we don’t have as many travelers.
But, back in Fairhope, Dr. Douglas Caron thinks it’s any day now, he’ll see a case.
“We fully expect and plan to see it,” said Caron.
In fact, the Alabama Health Department has started asking physicians to make sure they check for signs of the virus.
“The health department has asked us about the possibility of the Zika virus by number one, asking about foreign travel,” said Caron.
Now more than ever, he recommends using bug repellent. He also suggests switching to yellow light bulbs which don’t attract as many mosquitoes, spraying insecticides like Permethrin on clothes, and, he says the lactic acid in sweat makes people much more appetizing to skeeters.
“That’s why we use wipes to eliminate the lactic acid from the skin,” said Caron.
Should it spread to Alabama, those infected typically come down with flu-like symptoms and rashes, but the biggest threat is to pregnant women, the virus can cause severe birth defects.
There is currently no vaccine.