Virginia urges residents to help combat spread of Zika virus

Aedes aegypti mosquito
FILE - This 2006 file photo provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a female Aedes aegypti mosquito in the process of acquiring a blood meal from a human host. The The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016, announced new guidance for doctors whose pregnant patients may have traveled to regions with a tropical illness linked to birth defects. Officials say doctors should ask pregnant women about their travel and certain symptoms, and, if warranted, test them for an infection with the Zika virus. The virus is spread through mosquito bites. (James Gathany/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention via AP, File)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Virginia health officials are encouraging residents to help combat the spread of the Zika virus as mosquito season begins.

The Virginia Health Department’s Zika website provides information about how residents can take precautions against the mosquito-borne illness. Zika can cause serious birth defects in pregnant women.

There have been 115 reported cases of Zika in Virginia since December 2015. Those have all been cases in which someone traveled to a Zika-affected area. There were no locally transmitted cases.

Officials say residents can help prevent the spread of Zika by tipping containers that collect water, like flower pots, where mosquitoes like to breed. They’re also encouraging residents who travel to Zika-affected areas to guard themselves against mosquitoes for three weeks after they return so they don’t pass Zika to mosquitoes.

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