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Preventing the Zika virus from invading your home

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are calling on pregnant women to put their travel plans on hold if they are going to a country where the Zika virus has been detected.

The CDC is also giving tips on how to protect against mosquito-borne illnesses abroad and at home.

The Zika virus is being spread primarily through two types of mosquito, Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus. According to the release, there have also been isolated cases where the virus has been spread through sexual contact with an infected person.

There is no treatment or vaccine for the virus. The most common symptoms, according to the CDC are fever, rash, joint pain and pink eye. The virus is usually mild and most people that are affected don’t show symptoms.

But the virus has been linked to certain birth defects and poor birth outcomes in women affected by the disease.

A list of affected areas is available here.

Indiana has not reported any documented cases of Zika, but according to the release, health officials expect to see some cases when residents return from infected areas.

“Diseases do not recognize borders, especially when they’re transmitted by insects,” said State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams. “The best defense against Zika virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses is to protect yourself from being bitten and eliminate breeding grounds. Women should consult a medical provider before traveling to an affected area if they are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.”

To protect yourself from mosquito-borne illnesses, follow these guidelines according to the CDC:

  • Avoid places and times when mosquitoes bite.
  • Use insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or IR3535
  • Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks and hats.
  • Stay and sleep in screened or air-conditioned rooms.
  • Use a bed net if the area where you are sleeping is exposed to the outdoors.
  • Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear.
  • Eliminate standing water in and around homes and ensure that water is removed weekly from potential breeding grounds such as tires, buckets, pet bowls, birdbaths, rain gutters and pool covers.
  • Repair cracks or gaps in septic tanks and cover open vents or plumbing pipes.

For more information, visit the Indiana State Department of Health’s Zika page.