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Virginia Department of Health urges caution as mosquito season begins

NORFOLK, Va. - The start of May brings the beginning of mosquito season in Virginia and the Virginia Department of Health is urging caution.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe is reminding folks with the May 1st start that Zika virus, which can be spread by mosquitoes, is still a very real concern.

“Everyone has a role to play when it comes to preventing Zika virus and the potential spread of Zika in their community,” said Governor McAuliffe. “The risks of Zika virus to pregnant women and their unborn children are very serious. When you take steps to prevent Zika virus, you are not only protecting yourself, you are helping to protect Virginia’s pregnant women and their babies. By eliminating mosquitoes around your home or business, using EPA-registered insect repellent, and staying informed and adhering to Zika virus travel precautions, you can ensure all Virginians have a safe and healthy summer.”

“It is important to remember that in addition to Zika virus, mosquitoes carry other viruses, such as West Nile virus and Eastern equine encephalitis virus,” said Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources Dr. Bill Hazel. “I recommend we all get in the habit of taking healthy steps to eliminate mosquito-breeding habitats and to prevent mosquito bites.”

Since December 1, 2015, the Virginia Department of Health has reported 115 cases of Zika virus disease in Virginia residents to the CDC. All of those cases are associated with travel to Zika-affected area.

The Virginia Department of Health has these tips to help prevent the spread of Zika:

  • Tip, Toss and Cover: Tip containers such as garbage cans, pool covers and flower pots that might collect water where mosquitoes could breed; toss outside items that aren’t being used and might collect water; and cover your skin with an EPA-registered insect repellent and long, light-colored clothing, shoes and socks.
  • CDC recommends that pregnant women not travel to any area where there is a risk of Zika virus infection; up-to-date travel advisory information can be found on the CDC website.
  • It’s important that travelers returning to the U.S. from Zika affected areas of the world take steps to prevent mosquito bites for 3 weeks so they don’t pass Zika virus to mosquitoes that could spread the virus to other people.
  • Stay up to date on ways to prevent sexual transmission of Zika virus disease; All pregnant women with sex partners who live in or traveled to an area with risk of Zika should use condoms during sex or abstain from sex for the remainder of their pregnancy; All other couples in which a partner has traveled to a Zika affected area can reduce the risk of sexual transmission by using condoms or abstaining from sex; Please visit the VDH website or the CDC website for the most up-to-date recommendations.