The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) today launched #StopZika-a new citywide public education campaign designed to provide residents with simple steps they can take to help protect themselves from the Zika virus. Though Zika does not currently present a direct threat locally, the new campaign will provide residents with tips to protect against the virus when traveling and also protect against other mosquito-borne illnesses here in Chicago.
“We know that mosquitoes can transmit a host of infections from Zika to West Nile Virus, which is why the summer months are key for our mosquito prevention efforts,” said CDPH Commissioner Julie Morita, M.D. “In recognition of the health risks associated with both Zika and mosquitoes, we have undertaken an aggressive mosquito strategy once again to ensure that our residents can have a healthy summer whether traveling here or at home.”
Zika is most commonly transmitted through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito, and has predominantly affected parts of Latin American and the Caribbean. People living in the greater Chicago area who have not traveled to these areas are generally not considered at risk for Zika virus infection.
To prevent Zika in Chicago, CDPH has put in place a preventative plan, informed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which recommends women who are pregnant to avoid travel to regions where Zika transmission is ongoing. Furthermore, male sexual partners (of pregnant women) who travel to those regions are recommended to use condoms while having sex for the duration of the pregnancy.
Though mosquitoes native to Chicago do not currently carry the Zika virus, there are simple steps all residents can take to protect themselves and their family from mosquitoes during the summer months. Residents should consider the following tips recommended by medical experts:
- When outside, use insect repellant as directed. Make sure repellant includes DEET, Picaridin or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus.
- When inside, use air conditioning or make sure open windows and doors have screens.
- Remove standing water around your home, where mosquitoes like to breed and lay eggs. This includes water that collects under potted plants, in birdbaths and near storm drains.
- Keep grass and weeds short to prevent hiding places for adult mosquitoes.
The campaign features print and outdoor advertisements in English and Spanish, plus stop-motion videos at O’Hare Airport, specifically reminding residents and visitors traveling to take basic precautions to protect themselves from Zika. CDPH is making posters available, in English and Spanish, to clinicians citywide to encourage their patients to ask more questions. Residents can also follow the campaign on social media using the hashtags #StopZika and #PareZika (Spanish).