Where is Zika?

There was a lot of news about Zika virus two years ago when 17 athletes, including four top seeded golfers and some big tennis stars, pulled out of the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games ostensibly over Zika fears. The Zika story fizzled after the games, although some athletes later tested positive for antibodies to other arboviruses.

In the US, Zika can be transmitted by mosquito bites, but according to the CDC, there is “no known Zika” from mosquitoes outside of Florida and Texas.

Zika has been present in mosquitoes in Florida and Texas, but not in any other state. Source.

Zika is thought to be transmitted by only two species of mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti and A. albopictus) which are rare or absent in New England. In 2016, 2017, and 2018 the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets monitored for A. albopictus and failed to find any. Populations of A. aegypti have apparently never been present in Vermont.

The Aedes mosquitoes which transmit Zika are either “very unlikely” or “unlikely” to live and reproduce in Vermont. Source

Although there is no reason for concern about exposure to mosquito-borne Zika in Vermont, The BLSG website has a page titled “Information Center for Zika, EEE, and WNV.” It is important to monitor Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile Virus (WNV) in Vermont, and we should all be aware of the level of risk associated with those arboviruses. On the BLSG website’s FAQ, as much space is dedicated to Zika as to EEE and WNV. This is highly misleading to local residents trying to make decisions about staying safe from mosquito-borne diseases, and does not inspire confidence in other information provided by the BLSG district.

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