The Zika virus first became news worthy in 2015, when the country of Brazil experienced a major increase in babies born with microcephaly. The Zika virus, a mosquito borne virus known to cause birth defects, was the suspected culprit. In January of 2016, after responding to increased reports of Zika in Brazil and the Americas, the CDC activated its Emergency Operations Center (EOC). This was later updated to a Level 1, the highest priority. It was this outbreak that created the controversy over travel to Brazil during the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Some athletes refused to participate in order to protect themselves and their families.


At the time of the outbreak, it was unknown how far the Zika virus would spread and if its mosquito vector would find its way into the Continental United States. Now in 2017 we know that the risk of a Zika virus outbreak occurring in the United States is very low. Currently the only locations to report cases of Zika are Brownsville, Texas and Miami-Dade County, Florida. These were isolated cases and neither of which have yielded additional concerns from the CDC.


Although mosquitos are common in Central Iowa, the Zika virus is not. Iowans currently have no reason to fear an outbreak of Zika. Its reach has been limited to border states only. However, despite the low risk of Zika transmission, the mosquitos in the state of Iowa can be vectors for other more common diseases, and protecting yourself from their bite is the best mode of prevention.