Zika virus disease (Zika) is caused by an emerging mosquito-borne virus that has no specific medical treatment or vaccine. The virus is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito in the Aedes genus, the same mosquito responsible for transmitting yellow fever, dengue fever and chikungunya viruses. The symptoms of the illness are generally mild, but Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects including microcephaly. In addition, infection may also be linked to neurological disorders such as Guillain-Barré syndrome. Zika virus was first isolated in 1947 from a rhesus monkey in Uganda’s Zika forest, but the first human cases of Zika were not detected until 1952. In 2007, a large epidemic of Zika virus was reported in Yap Island and Guam, Micronesia and in 2013 and 2014 multiple epidemics were reported in several Pacific Islands. By May 2015, the Zika virus was reported in Brazil as well as several countries of South and Central America and the Caribbean. By 2016 the virus is was widespread in Brazil, and is continued to spread throughout the Americas as well as the Oceania and Pacific Islands. In July 2016, the first cases of mosquito transmitted Zika were found in South Florida, a few blocks north of downtown Miami. Since the spread of Zika to the Americas, NPMA has taken a leading role to educate its professional pest management members, legislators, regulators and the public on the importance of proper mosquito control.
The yellow fever and Asian tiger mosquito live in close association with humans, largely due to their preferences in breeding sites. Both species seek out natural and artificial water-holding containers such as tree holes, bird baths, or plastic containers to lay their eggs. Due to the biology and behavior of the mosquito vector species (Aedes aegypti and A. albopictus), pest management professionals are uniquely positioned to synergize control tactics with area wide mosquito control efforts found in some areas of the country. Both mosquito species. NPMA is continuing to work with industry allies and state regulators educate lawmakers and the public as well as encourage the appropriation of additional funds to fight mosquitoes that carry disease causing pathogens.