The Zika Virus – Some Things You Should Know
You may have heard some things about the Zika Virus in the recent past. Mosquitoes carrying Zika are not likely to be found in Minnesota, but there have been cases in Minnesotans who traveled to Zika-impacted areas.
Zika virus spreads to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito (Ae. Aegypti and Ae. Albopictus). People can also get Zika by having sex with a man infected with the Zika virus and can also be spread from a pregnant woman to her fetus. The mosquitoes that carry Zika are aggressive daytime biters, but can bite at night also.
The Zika virus can be especially risky for pregnant women. The Zika infection during pregnancy can cause fetuses to have a birth defect of the brain called microcephaly, a severe birth defect that is a sign of incomplete brain development. Other problems have been detected among fetuses and infants infected with Zika before birth, such as defects of the eye, hearing deficits, and impaired growth. There have also been increased reports of Guillain-Barre’ syndrome, an uncommon sickness of the nervous system, in areas affected by Zika.
At this time, there is not a vaccine to prevent the Zika virus. The best way to prevent diseases spread by mosquitoes is to protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- 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.
- Treat your clothing and gear with permethrin or buy pre-treated items.
- Use EPA-registered insect repellents. Always follow the product label instructions.
- Mosquito netting can be used to cover babies younger than 2 months old in carriers, strollers, or cribs to protect them from mosquito bites.
- 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.
Many people infected with Zika won’t have symptoms or will only have mild symptoms. The most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes. Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache. 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.
If you have Zika, there is no medicine to treat it but you can treat symptoms by doing the following:
- Get plenty of rest.
- Drink fluids to prevent dehydration.
- Take medicine such as Tylenol to reduce fever and pain.
- Do not take aspirin or other non-steroidal ant-inflammatory drugs.
- If you are taking medicine for another medical condition, talk to your healthcare provider before taking additional medication.
Where is Zika?
Prior to 2015, Zika virus outbreaks occurred in areas of Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. The Zika virus outbreaks are currently happening in many countries and territories. Zika virus will continue to spread and it will be difficult to determine how and where the virus will spread over time. No local mosquito-borne Zika virus disease cases have been reported in US states, but lab tests have confirmed Zika virus in travelers returning to the United States. These travelers have gotten the virus from mosquito bites and some non-travelers got Zika through sex with a traveler. These imported cases could result in local spread of the virus in some areas of the United States. For current updates on areas of the world that Zika virus is affecting, go to http://www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/united-states.html.
The mosquitoes that spread the Zika live in many parts of the world. Specific areas where Zika virus is spreading are often difficult to determine and are likely to change over time, so if traveling, please visit the CDC Travelers’ Health Website for the most recent travel information at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-travel-information.
For questions on this topic or other reproductive health concerns, or to schedule an appointment for reproductive health services, call 1-877-275-6123.
Information provided to you on behalf of Mabube-Otwa Reproductive Health Services and Wadena County Public Health.