We're not in the business of scaring people. But, we're not going to lie either. Zika is scary. It is, after all, a virus that can cause microcephaly in unborn children at all stages of pregnancy. If even one child is born with this, it will be one child too many. But what are the chances? Is Zika currently a threat to residents here in Maui? Will it become a threat in the future? All we can do is give you the facts as we know them. It is up to you to determine how much of a threat this virus is.
At this time, cases of the Zika virus found in the state of Hawaii are only travel-related. That means that the people diagnosed with Zika recently travelled to a country where Zika is spread in local mosquito populations.
The Zika virus is transmitted sexually and through the bite of a mosquito. Take extra caution if someone you have intimate relations with has come back from a country where Zika is local.
Not all mosquitoes transmit Zika.
The mosquitoes that can transmit Zika are found in Hawaii. They are the same mosquitoes that spread dengue and chikungunya.
If you are bitten by a mosquito that can transmit Zika, that doesn't mean it has the Zika virus in it. These mosquitoes are not born with the virus. They get it from infected people. Since we have infected people in Hawaii, there is a chance the virus can become localized.
Zika was discovered in Brazil in May of 2015. It took only one year for the virus to affect 35 countries in Central and South America, and for it to infect millions of people. That is pretty scary. But, it may not spread as quickly in the United States where mosquito abatement services are much more widespread and our hospital infrastructure is more sound.
If you're curious how fast Zika can travel once it becomes local in the United States, you might want to visit this page of the Miami Herald. They are currently tracking local cases of Zika within the state. But, keep in mind that they are not living on an island.
The threat of Zika and other mosquito-borne viruses can be reduced through personal mosquito protection, proper door and window screens, mosquito reduction, and the reduction of mosquito breeding sites.
At Sandwich Isle Pest Solutions, we take no joy in this Zika threat. After all, we don't just work here in Hawaii, our families live here too. This threat is as real to us as it is to you. But, we know that mosquito reduction is the first line of defense against the spread of mosquito-borne viruses. But, while these services are the most effective way to reduce mosquitoes, you can still help to keep Maui safe, even if you do not obtain mosquito control services, by getting rid of any areas of standing water on your property, no matter how small. (Mosquitoes can breed in a tiny pool of water in an obstructed gutter.)
Should you be concerned about Zika? Only you can determine that. But if we work together to reduce mosquito breeding sites, we can make our state safer. That much we know for sure.