ZIKA VIRUS UPDATE
The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne viral infection transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. Aedes mosquitos breed in stagnant pools of water and are usually active in daytime hours, including peak times of dawn and dusk. The Zika virus is of the Flavivirus family, the same family of viruses that cause Dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, West Nile virus and Yellow Fever.
People who are infected with the Zika virus may experience the following symptoms:
- Fever, lethargy
- Skin rashes
- Eye redness
- Muscle and joint pain
Zika virus infection during pregnancy has also been associated with pregnancy loss and congenital abnormalities in babies.
Most infected people do not exhibit symptoms. Symptoms develop in up to 25% of people who have become infected and typically occur 2-12 days after the infected mosquito bites. The symptoms last up to 7 days and are usually mild.
Countries and territories that have confirmed cases of the Zika virus are: Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Cape Verde, Columbia, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, Suriname, Venezuela and Samoa. In addition, Zika outbreaks have occurred in areas of Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands.
Currently, there is no vaccine to protect against Zika virus infection. You can take the following actions to protect yourself:
- Use insect repellent spray or cream.
- Cover exposed skin by wearing long sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Use air conditioning or window and door screens when indoors.
- Avoid being outdoors at dawn and dusk when the mosquitos are more active.
- Locate and eliminate any standing water which is where the mosquitos breed.
If you think that you have been infected, seek medical treatment as soon as possible.
For more information, visit the Centers for Disease Control’s website at http://www.cdc.gov/zika or The World Health Organization’s website at http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/zika/en/
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