Zika Virus has created much concern in countries in Central and South America. Until this year there were no known cases in the US mainland but places like Florida have experience an alarming number of Zika Virus cases. Particularly concerning is the spread of Zika to almost every state in US. Because the spread of Zika is occuring quickly it is recommended you keep updated on current developments by monitoring local and national news outlets and visit the Center for Disease Control website regularly for the most recent developments.
Google has begun tracking the spread of Zika in the US as part of its google trends project. The link below will take you to a Google webpage that provides helpful information about Zika Virus.
Below is what is known about Zika from the Center for Disease Control
- Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito (Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus). These mosquitoes are aggressive daytime biters. They can also bite at night.
- Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects.
- There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika.
- The Florida Department of Health has identified an area in one neighborhood of Miami where Zika is being spread by mosquitoes.
Many people infected with Zika virus won’t have symptoms or will only have mild symptoms. The most common symptoms of Zika are
- Joint pain
- Conjunctivitis (red eyes)
Other symptoms include:
- Muscle pain
Symptoms can last for several days to a week. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika. Once a person has been infected with Zika, they are likely to be protected from future infections.
How long symptoms last
Zika is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected. Symptoms of Zika are similar to other viruses spread through mosquito bites, like dengue and chikungunya.
How soon you should be tested
Zika virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for about a week. See your doctor or other healthcare provider if you develop symptoms and you live in or have recently traveled to an area with Zika. Your doctor or other healthcare provider may order blood tests to look for Zika or other similar viruses like dengue or chikungunya. Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections.
When to see a doctor or healthcare provider
See your doctor or other healthcare provider if you have the symptoms described above and have visited an area with Zika, this is especially important if you are pregnant. Be sure to tell your doctor or other healthcare provider where you traveled.
Why Zika is risky for some people
Zika infection during pregnancy can cause a birth defect of the brain called microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects. Other problems have been detected among fetuses and infants infected with Zika virus before birth, such as defects of the eye, hearing deficits, and impaired growth. There have also been increased reports of Guillain-Barré syndrome, an uncommon sickness of the nervous system, in areas affected by Zika.
How to prevent Zika
There is no vaccine to prevent Zika. The best way to prevent diseases spread by mosquitoes is to protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites. Here’s how
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Treat your clothing and gear with permethrin or buy pre-treated items.
- Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents with one of the following active ingredients:
DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol. Always follow the product label instructions.
- When used as directed, these insect repellents are proven safe and effective even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
- Do not use insect repellents on babies younger than 2 months old.
- Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol on children younger than 3 years old.
- Stay in places with air conditioning and window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
- Take steps to control mosquitoes inside and outside your home.
- Mosquito netting can be used to cover babies younger than 2 months old in carriers, strollers, or cribs.
- Sleep under a mosquito bed net if air conditioned or screened rooms are not available or if sleeping outdoors.
- Prevent sexual transmission of Zika by using condoms or not having sex.
How Zika is diagnosed
- Diagnosis of Zika is based on a person’s recent travel history, symptoms, and test results.
- A blood or urine test can confirm a Zika infection.
- Symptoms of Zika are similar to other illnesses spread through mosquito bites, like dengue and chikungunya.
- Your doctor or other healthcare provider may order tests to look for several types of infections.
What to do if you have Zika
There is no specific medicine or vaccine for Zika virus. Treat the symptoms:
- Get plenty of rest.
- Drink fluids to prevent dehydration.
- Take medicine such as acetaminophen to reduce fever and pain.
- Do not take aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
- If you are taking medicine for another medical condition, talk to your healthcare provider before taking additional medication.
For more complete and updated information visit Center for Disease Control webpage