Zika Virus

Posted on Jan 8

WHAT IS THE ZIKA VIRUS? Zika is a virus which is spread by mosquitoes and can also be transmitted sexually. It is dangerous for pregnant women, because Zika has been known to cause severe defects in the unborn child, including microcephaly, a condition that affects the baby’s brain development.

Rebecca Sunenshine, Medical Director for Disease Control at Maricopa County Public Health said, “The best prevention for pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant is to avoid traveling to areas with Zika transmission.” (https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-travel-information) In addition, because Zika is also a sexually-transmitted disease, women should avoid having sex with someone who has visited one of these countries. If a woman has recently visited a Zika-affected area and is pregnant or becomes pregnant, she should consult with her healthcare provider.

Over the last two weeks, the number of Zika cases spreading in Sonora, Mexico has increased significantly. To date, all Zika cases in Arizona have been connected to individuals who have traveled to a Zika-affected area. Maricopa County has had one case of travel-related Zika this year. Mosquito-borne Zika transmission has not been documented in Arizona.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF THE VIRUS? Only one out of five people with Zika will have symptoms. For those who do, symptoms usually start anywhere between 3 to 14 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. They may develop fever, a rash, headache, joint pain, red eyes, or muscle pain, typically lasting a few days to a week.

WHAT YOU SHOULD DO Remember, only 1 in 5 people with Zika will have symptoms, so if a woman has recently visited a Zika-affected area and is pregnant or becomes pregnant, she should consult with her healthcare provider. If you have been to a Zika-infected area, the CDC recommends that you protect yourself from mosquito bites for at least 21 days to prevent further mosquito bites which may spread the virus. In addition, because it is also a sexually-transmitted disease, you should refrain from having sex during the 21-day period to prevent any further spread of the virus.

Mosquito bites can be prevented by using insect repellents according to the label, wearing long sleeves and pants, staying indoors when possible, and keeping windows closed or screened. Additionally, any outdoor water containers (even small ones like toys left out in the rain) should be dumped out twice a week so mosquitoes cannot breed in them.

For more, visit www.FighttheBiteMaricopa.org