With Zika virus cases on the rise, a lot of people have questions. Is Zika an immediate threat for those of us here in the U.S.? Are there certain travel precautions you should be taking? And what are the negative effects of Zika on unborn babies? We’ve put together a list of the most common questions and risks associated with the Zika virus. Here’s what you need to know:
- Although there are several identified cases of Zika virus in the United States, those infected actually contracted the virus from mosquito bites in other countries while traveling. There have been no reported cases of direct, mosquito-borne Zika virus in the the states, but Zika has reached mosquitoes in Puerto Rico and are expected to eventually travel north, most likely affecting the Gulf Coast first. And while Zika is usually transmitted through mosquito bites, it can also be spread from an infected person to another person, though sexual transmission.
- Symptoms of the Zika virus are mild for most people, sometimes non-existent. These can include fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis (red eyes), muscle pain and headache, and usually last for a few days to a week after being bitten. An infected mosquito can then spread the virus to other people.
- There’s currently no vaccine for Zika virus. If contracted, it’s recommended to drink plenty of fluids, get adequate rest, and reduce fever with Tylenol (no aspirin). It’s also important to prevent new mosquito bites by wearing clothing that covers arms and legs while outdoors and using mosquito repellent with DEET. During the first week of infection, Zika virus can be found in the blood and passed from an infected person to a mosquito through mosquito bites, according to the CDC.
- Zika virus is extremely dangerous for pregnant women as the virus has been directly linked to microcephaly, a birth defect that causes babies to be born with an abnormally small head and brain. Pregnant women, or those trying to conceive, should refrain from traveling to these countries until after the baby is born.
- The best way to stop Zika transmission or infection is to prevent mosquito bites with the use of repellants containing DEET and professional mosquito control service consisting of monthly mosquito treatments, that will reduce the number of adult mosquitoes and mosquito larvae around your home.