Prevent spread of Zika virus with basic knowledge

8 Jun 2016 | Cpl. Mark Watola Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune

The Zika virus is a disease spread through mosquito bites from an infected Aedes species mosquito, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC also states that the Zika virus doesn’t usually get people sick enough to go to the hospital and rarely causes death. However, the virus can cause a serious birth defect, microcephaly, and other fetal brain defects.

"According to the CDC and Public Health, in order to prevent the spread of this virus, it is important for everyone to understand what the virus is, potential effects of Zika infection, how to prevent infection and what can be done to prevent the spread of the mosquito responsible for transmitting the virus from person to person," said Eric Carlson, installation emergency manager for Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.

Typical symptoms of Zika virus infection include fever, conjunctivitis, muscle pain, rash, headache and joint pain.

"Current public health information tells us most people who have been infected with Zika will not display symptoms," said Carlson.

"Approximately 20 percent of infected people will develop mild symptoms lasting several days to one week. These symptoms typically occur two to seven days after being bit by an infected mosquito."

For those traveling to areas where the Zika virus is present, take precautions to reduce mosquito bites.

Select hotel accommodations that provide air conditioning, screened windows and doors.

Sleep under a mosquito net if you are outdoors or your accommodations are not screened.

Wear long sleeve shirts and long pants when in outdoor areas, and apply insect repellent on the areas not covered by clothing.

Applying a Permethrin treatment to your clothing is an added layer of protection from mosquitoes.

Always follow the product label instructions, reapply the repellent as directed.

If you are using sunscreen, apply the sunscreen as directed, followed by the insect repellent.

Personnel who travel in and out of Zika-endemic areas should use condoms or abstinence to prevent the potential spread of the Zika virus to your partner.

In addition to taking precaution in infected areas, people can take proactive steps to protect their community from the threat of the virus by preventing the growth of the mosquitoes in the area.

"The elimination of breeding sites is an effective way to control the Aedes mosquito population," said Carlson. "Since these mosquitoes breed in small bodies of water, eliminating their breeding areas will reduce the population growth in your immediate area."

People should routinely empty open containers, tightly cover water storage and call public works to fill potholes, said Carlson.

For more information visit the Navy Marine Corps Public Health Center at