What You Need to Know About the Zika Virus

Tiger Mosquito

Disease facts

  • Spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected “Aedes” species mosquito
  • Most common symptoms:
    • fever
    • rash
    • joint pain
    • conjunctivitis (red eyes)
    • Illness is usually mild and vague; many do not seek treatment therefore never knowing that they were infected
    • First discovered in 1947 in Uganda; additional cases in Asia and Pacific Island

What has changed and why now all of the hype?

  • In 2015, the first confirmed case of Zika diagnosed in South America
  • In 2016, the World Health Organization declared a public health emergency relating the Zika Virus with birth defects such as microcephaly (brain/head abnormalities) and a neurological disease called Guillian-Barre Syndrome
  • Cases of the Zika virus are now evident in the Caribbean and other tropical tourist areas

What we know about the Zika Virus

  • Can be spread from a pregnant mother to her fetus during pregnancy
  • Can be spread from an infected male to his partner sexually
  • Can be spread to a person from a mosquito that had bit an infected person
  • The Aedes mosquitoes are aggressive DAYTIME biters –  (They can also bite at night)
  • There is NO vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat the Zika virus

How can I prevent getting the Zika virus?

  • Applying mosquito repellent that is EPA approved: When used as directed, EPA registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective even for pregnant and breastfeeding women (DEET or Picardin products)
  • If applying sunscreen also, apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
  • Treat clothing and gear with permethrin
  • Stay in places with air conditioning

Should I avoid travel if I am pregnant or trying to become pregnant?

  • Consider delaying travel if possible
  • If you must travel, speak with your doctor first
  • Strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites

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