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Mosquitoes are more than just pests that fly around your head, buzz in your ears and cause itchy welts on your skin. They can carry harmful diseases that afflict humans, pets and wild animals.
There are more than 150 different species of mosquitoes that inhabit the United States. 51 different species of mosquito have been found in Massachusetts alone. The most harmful viruses that have been contracted via mosquito bite in Massachusetts are currently Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile Virus, however, it is important to be aware of other mosquito-borne illnesses that can be contracted abroad. These include Chikungunya Virus, Dengue Fever, Malaria, Yellow Fever and Zika Virus.
Zika virus is primarily spread to people through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease (Zika) are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon, and deaths from Zika are very rare.
CDC has issued a travel notice (Level 2 Alert-Practice Enhanced Precautions) for people traveling to places with Zika virus.
Because Zika can cause birth defects in babies born to women who were infected with Zika virus during pregnancy, CDC recommends the following:
- Pregnant women should not travel to any area where Zika virus is spreading.
- Pregnant women who must travel to one of these areas should talk to their doctor first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during the trip.
- Women trying to become pregnant, and their male partners, should consult with their doctor before traveling to these areas and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during the trip.
- Zika virus can be spread by a man to his sexual partners. Men who have lived in or traveled to an area with Zika and who have a pregnant partner should either use condoms or not have sex (vaginal, anal, or oral) during the pregnancy.