We’ve all heard of various viruses that go around seasonally, and that are pretty common for all of us to contract. But there is one being seen now that you probably had not heard of before, and suddenly it’s on every news channel as headline news. It’s the Zika virus. The best way to arm yourself against any illness it to become informed; so today we will present some facts about what you need to know about the Zika virus.
Zika Virus: What Is It?
First, it is primarily transmitted by a mosquito bite. However, CNN reports that the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) has confirmed a sexual transmission case in Texas. The CDC officially released “Interim Guidelines for Prevention of Sexual Transmission of Zika Virus” at the time of this article’s writing. Please refer to these guidelines to ensure that you are protected.
Zika Virus: Where Is It?
As an air ambulance jet service, we constantly monitor health and travel warnings. The Zika virus is global. According to the CDC as of the writing of this blog, areas with Zika that have recorded active transmission of the virus include 26 countries in Central and South America, three countries/regions in the Oceania/Pacific Islands, and one country in Africa (Cape Verde).
Zika Virus: Prevention
The CDC reports that there is no vaccine to prevent the virus. The bites usually occur during the daytime. They advise against unnecessary travel to the affected areas. Other suggestions are that if you must travel to affected areas, wear long sleeved shirts and pants, stay in places with air conditioning or places that use window and door screens. Use EPA registered insect repellants on anyone older than two months of age.
Zika Virus: Symptoms
The CDC states that about “one in five people who have been infected will become ill.” They also list symptoms of the virus. These include “fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache.” The treatments they list are:
- get plenty of rest
- drink fluids to prevent dehydration
- take medicine such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) to relieve fever and pain.
They also say “do not take aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs”.
Zika Virus: Are You At Risk?
The bigger danger of the Zika virus is the way in which it can harm unborn children. The virus has the potential to cause microcephaly in babies. This is a condition in which the baby is born with a head much smaller than normal, resulting in a smaller brain and developmental problems. Pregnant women, health care providers caring for pregnant women, and women of reproductive age need to pay particular attention to this virus. Guidelines from the CDC for these groups of people were released on February 5, 2016. Also, please refer to “Question and Answers: Zika Virus Infection (Zika) and Pregnancy” where many of the questions are answered by the CDC for a pregnant or potentially pregnant woman to read for precautions regarding travel to these affected countries.
The best way to arm yourself against this virus is to be informed. Information is coming out quickly. The CDC issues updated guidelines often and we all need to be aware of them. Stay healthy!
photo credit: Ochlerotatus japonicus, feeding on finger via photopin (license)