No Need to Worry About Zika? Spread of Virus ‘Unlikely’ for NJ This Mosquito Season
The types of mosquitoes capable of carrying the Zika virus have been found in the Garden State, but an outbreak of the illness is not anticipated for New Jersey during the upcoming warmer months.
Maps created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put New Jersey in the estimated range of the Aedes species mosquito (A. aegypti and A. albopictus), which is the primary mode of virus transmission. The maps indicate where these types of mosquitoes have been found in the past and do not suggest that infected mosquitoes are currently present in those areas.
But according to epidemiologist Shereen Semple with the state Department of Health, Aedes aegypti is rarely found in New Jersey. And while Aedes albopictus — or Asian tiger mosquito — has a presence in the state, its transmission of Zika has only been seen in laboratory studies.
"It's unlikely that we would see local transmission of Zika in our state," Semple told Townsquare Media. "Based on New Jersey's experience with other travel-related diseases, such as dengue and chikungunya — where we see travel-related cases each year but no local transmission — we think Zika will follow the same pattern."
Outbreaks are occurring in many countries, but there has not yet been one locally-transmitted case of Zika in the continental United States. Hundreds of cases, including a handful in New Jersey, have been the product of travel to other countries.
The disease can also be spread through sexual contact and possibly through blood transfusion, according to the CDC. Zika is mainly a concern for pregnant women as it has been linked to a serious birth defect of the brain known as microcephaly. Other problems such as hearing deficits and impaired growth have also been reported among babies who were affected with Zika before birth.
Most people won't show symptoms of Zika, according to the CDC, and it is rarely fatal. If symptoms show, the most common are fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis.