The Zika Virus is the latest public health crisis that has women of child bearing age terrified across the globe. Zika virus infection during pregnancy has been linked to adverse outcomes including pregnancy loss and microcephaly, absent or poorly developed brain structures, defects of the eye and impaired growth in fetuses and infants. This virus has been brought to the US thus far by travellers but with mosquito season upon us, it will likely spread to the continental US as well. As with many diseases of public health consequence, good mosquito control is key to the reduction of mosquitos who are the primary vector of this disease. Standing water is required for mosquito breeding. Be sure to eliminate all sources of standing water on your property and follow the steps below to reduce the liklihood of mosquito bites. The information below is from the CDC; always a great source for the latest disease information.
Types of Transmission
Zika virus is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito (Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus). To date, Zika has not been spread by mosquitoes in the continental United States. However, lab tests have confirmed Zika virus in travelers returning to the United States from areas with Zika. These travelers have gotten the virus from mosquito bites. Zika virus can also be sexually transmitted by a man to his partners. A few non-travelers in the United States have become infected with Zika through sex with a traveler.
With the recent outbreaks in the Americas, the number of Zika cases among travelers visiting or returning to the United States will likely increase. CDC is not able to predict how much Zika virus would spread in the continental United States. Many areas in the United States have the type of mosquitoes that can become infected with and spread Zika virus. However, recent outbreaks in the continental United States of chikungunya and dengue, which are spread by the same type of mosquito, have been relatively small and limited to a small area.
Not having sex is the best way to prevent sexual transmission of Zika. Couples with men who live in or travel to areas with Zika can prevent the spread of Zika by not having sex or using condoms the right way every time they have vaginal, anal, or oral (mouth-to-penis) sex.
The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are
• Joint pain
• Conjunctivitis (red eyes)
Most people infected with Zika virus won’t even know they have the disease because they won’t have symptoms. The sickness 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.
There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika virus disease.
The following steps can reduce the symptoms of Zika:
• 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) until dengue can be ruled out to reduce the risk of bleeding.
• If you are taking medicine for another medical condition, talk to your healthcare provider before taking additional medication.
To prevent others from getting sick, strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during the first week of illness. See your doctor or healthcare provider if you develop symptoms.
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.
• Treat your clothing and gear with permethrin or buy pre-treated items.
• Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents. Always follow the product label instructions.
• Sleep under a mosquito bed net if air conditioned or screened rooms are not available or if sleeping outdoors.
To learn more, please visit CDC's Zika virus page.