Though the two species of mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus are known to be present in Georgia and several other Southern states, the Georgia Department of Public Health confirmed that no reports of Zika virus have been transmitted locally.
Zika is a viral disease transmitted to people primarily by mosquitoes of the Aedes species (specifically the Aegypti and Albopictus), according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“Georgia has had 118 travel-related cases of Zika since January 2016, and only five of those cases were were found during 2017,” said Nancy Nydam, Director of Communications for the Georgia Department of Public Health (GDPH) in an email statement.
“Coweta County has had fewer than five travel-related cases of Zika since January 2016,” Nydam added.
Travel-related cases include those infected with the disease by mosquitoes found in areas outside of the country or state.
“Travelers returning from areas where the virus is being spread may become sick after returning home to or visiting Georgia,” reported the GDPH via the department’s website.
Local transmission means that local mosquitoes have been infected with the virus and are spreading it to the people in the area, the website reported.
However, according to Nydam, “There are no locally acquired cases of Zika in Coweta County or Georgia.”
There have been reports of Zika virus being transmitted by local mosquitoes in the United States, specifically in parts of Hawaii, Florida and Texas, according to the CDC.
According to the CDC’s official website, the Aedes aegypti is the main type of mosquito that spreads Zika, dengue, chikungunya, and other viruses.
Aedes aegypti mosquitoes can be found all across the Southern United States, though having the specific species in any given area does not indicate a prevalence of Zika or any other virus.
The Zika virus causes minimal symptoms in most of those infected. Symptoms generally begin within 12 days of being bitten by an infected mosquito. According to the GDPH, the most common symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes). Despite causing little harm to those infected, the CDC has associated the virus with microcephaly, a rare birth defect.
There are no treatments available for those infected by the virus, and there are currently no vaccinations available. The virus can be prevented, however, primarily by protecting the body from mosquito bites. The GDPH recommends the use of products containing active ingredients that have been registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use as repellents applied to skin and clothing.
The CDC’s website advises that products should contain at least one of the following ingredients: DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone.