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Zika Virus: Stay Prepared

TRAVEL NOTICE: Pregnant women or couples considering getting pregnant should avoid travel to Zika affected areas.  Zika virus is currently affecting areas of Africa, Asia, Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South America, and parts of Florida. For a complete list of Zika-affected areas, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

If you or someone you have had sex with has recently traveled to a Zika-affected area and are experiencing symptoms, consult your healthcare provider or call the City of Milwaukee Health Department at 414-286-3521. Symptoms of Zika include fever, rash, muscle and joint pain, and red eyes.

What is Zika?

Zika virus disease is a disease that is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito.  Zika can also be spread from a mother to her unborn baby, and through sex or a blood transfusion. 1 out of 5 people infected with Zika do not have symptoms. For those people who do feel sick, the symptoms are usually mild and last for several days to a week. The symptoms of Zika are red eyes, fever, joint pain and rash. Zika is not dangerous for most people. However, Zika has been linked to serious birth defects, as well as Guillain-Barre syndrome and thrombocytopenia. One birth defect linked to Zika affects brain development resulting in a smaller than normal head. This condition is called “microcephaly.”

What is happening in Milwaukee?

The species of mosquito that can transmit Zika has not been found in Wisconsin to date. One of the types of mosquitos known to be capable of transmitting Zika virus (Aedes albopictus) has been found near the Wisconsin/Illinois border. The City of Milwaukee Health Department is partnering with the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Wisconsin Department of Health and Human Services to look for mosquito species in Milwaukee that are capable of transmitting Zika virus. For more information, please visit the University of Wisconsin - Department of Entomology website.

There has not been any local transmission of Zika in Wisconsin. For an update on Zika travel-associated cases in Wisconsin, please visit the Wisconsin Department of Health Services website.        

What can I do to protect myself against Zika and other mosquito borne diseases?

To protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites, the City of Milwaukee Health Department recommends:

  • Applying an insect repellant with DEET, IR 3535, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus to clothing as well as exposed skin. Always apply according to the label instructions.
  • Avoiding areas populated by mosquitos. If you are in heavily mosquito-populated areas, wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts, socks and shoes.  
  • Preventing mosquitos from breeding by removing standing water from areas such as flowerpots, plastic containers, gutters and downspouts. Water in birdbaths and pet dishes should be changed at least every three days. Swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs should be cleaned and chlorinated. Pool covers should be drained of standing water.
  • Trimming tall grass, weeds, and vines as mosquitoes use these areas to rest during hot daylight hours. Consider evening your landscaping to prevent water from pooling in low-lying areas.
  • Mosquito-proofing your home by fixing holes in screens, windows and doors.