Most Zika virus infections are spread through the bite of an infected Aedes species of mosquito. The primary mosquito that carries the disease, Aedes aegypti
, is not established in Pennsylvania. Another type of mosquito, Aedes albopictus
, is able to carry Zika virus, although it is less efficient at spreading viruses like Zika because they feed on both people and animals. Aedes albopictus
has been found in Pennsylvania, particularly in southern counties.
Zika virus cannot be transmitted through casual contact such as touching someone, being close to them or sharing drinking glasses.
The best ways to prevent Zika virus infection are to take extra steps to protect yourself when traveling to a Zika-affected area and avoid sexual contact with a partner who traveled to a Zika-affected area or use a condom every time.
To protect our communities from possible local Zika transmission, all travelers returning to Pennsylvania from an area with Zika virus should take steps to prevent mosquito bites for three weeks to avoid spreading Zika to uninfected mosquitoes.
All residents, even those who have not traveled, are encouraged to eliminate mosquito habitats around the home to further protect our communities.
TRAVEL, SEXUAL TRANSMISSION, AND MOSQUITO CONTROL
Several countries have been
identified as areas of active Zika transmission. Areas in South Florida and Brownsville, Texas, are Zika cautionary areas. Pregnant women should avoid travel to these
areas. If you are traveling to a Zika-affected area, the best way to prevent
Zika is to protect against mosquito bites.
This can be done by:
• Using an EPA-approved insect repellent
• Wearing light-colored clothes that cover as much of the body as possible;
• Using physical barriers such as screens, closed doors and windows; and
• Sleeping under mosquito nets.
The CDC recommends that men who have traveled to or lived in an area with active Zika transmission should use condoms consistently and correctly during sex or abstain from sex. At this time, it is unknown how long an infected man may be able to spread Zika virus to his partner but it may be six months or longer.
Infected females can also transmit Zika virus
to their sexual partners. Persons who want to reduce the risk of sexual transmission of Zika virus should abstain from sex or correctly and consistently use condoms (or other barriers to prevent infection) during sex.
The timeframe for using condoms or waiting to have sex will vary based on the couple’s situation and concerns. Couples with a pregnant partner should take steps to protect their pregnancy.
Couples that do not include a pregnant partner should weigh the personal risks and benefits with the following guidelines:
• Couples that include a
man who has traveled to a Zika-affected area should
use condoms or not have sex for at least six months
after travel to an area with Zika (if he doesn't have symptoms) or for at least six months from the start of his symptoms (or Zika diagnosis) if he develops Zika.
• Couples that include a
woman who has traveled to a Zika-affected area should
use condoms or not have sex for at least eight weeks after travel to an area with Zika (if she doesn't have symptoms) or for at least eight weeks from the start of her symptoms (or Zika diagnosis) if she develops Zika.
• Couples that include a man or woman living in a Zika-affected area should use condoms or not have sex to prevent sexual transmission of Zika virus.
The mosquitoes that can carry Zika virus prefer to live in or around homes. During mosquito season in Pennsylvania, there are several steps you can take to protect yourself:
• Use air conditioning in your home when possible.
• Install or repair and use window and door screens in your home.
• If you have a septic tank, repair cracks or gaps.
• Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out any items inside and outside
your home that can hold water. Examples include tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpot saucers, trash containers and vases. Mosquitoes lay eggs near water.
• Use an outdoor flying insect spray where mosquitoes rest, such as under patio furniture.
• Kill mosquitoes in your home with an indoor flying insect fogger or indoor insect spray. Mosquitoes rest in dark, humid places like under the sink, in closets, under furniture or in the laundry room.