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Worries of the mosquito-borne Zika and West Nile viruses are hitting even closer to home this summer.

The Alabama Department of Public Health is investigating multiple reports of both diseases, and the Shelby County Health Department has confirmed at least one Zika case in Pelham.

However, that case was not transmitted locally.

“We don’t have any cases reported here in Tuscaloosa or in our public health region or our district, which is 11 counties,” said ADPH Emergency Preparedness Director Tommy Dockery.

Even though there have not been any reported incidents of either disease in Tuscaloosa proper, no one wants to deal with mosquitoes.

The easiest ways to avoid being bitten?

  • Don’t go outside in the early morning or late at night, when mosquitoes are most active
  • Wear long-sleeved clothing and pants when outdoors
  • Use an insect repellent with DEET, preferably one with 30 to 40 percent DEET
    • If you’re worried about exposure to the chemical, you can get most of the protection by spraying only on your clothing

Even if you are bitten by a mosquito carrying Zika or West Nile, odds are good you you won’t ever have symptoms.

Those who do experience Zika symptoms are unlikely to require hospitalization. But the virus can cause birth defects, so pregnant women should be highly cautious around mosquitoes.

West Nile affects only 1 in 5 who have been bitten by a carrier of the disease, but 1 in 150 will develop a serious illness that may lead to death.

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