Tell Zika to buzz off

  • Published
  • By Peter Holstein
  • Air Force Medical Public Affairs
In 2016, the Zika virus made world-wide news as a new threat to public health, but mosquito-borne illnesses have always been a health risk for people living in certain climates.

Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to avoid exposure to Zika and other mosquito-borne illnesses.

“These are not inevitable infections,” said Col. (Dr.) John Oh, chief of preventive medicine for the Air Force Medical Support Agency. “The mosquito that causes Zika has a very narrow range of where it lives. The biggest thing you can do is get rid of standing water – dog bowls, bird baths, old tires. These are all breeding grounds for mosquitos.”

According to Oh, we don’t yet know how big of an effect Zika will ultimately have. It’s closely related to some other vector borne viruses in the same family, like dengue fever. That means that like many of those diseases, Zika is probably here to stay. However, that doesn’t mean its impact this year or in future years will be as severe as last year.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that pregnant women avoid travel to ‘red areas’ which can be viewed on the CDC website,” said Oh. “Fortunately, currently there are no red areas in the Continental United States, but there are two “yellow areas” in South Florida and Brownsville where pregnant women should consider postponing travel.”

You can view the CDC recommendations for yourself at