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Zika Virus, What It Is and How To Prevent It

mosquito zika virusThe Zika virus was uncovered in 1947, but human outbreaks were not detected until 1952. Most cases were reported in tropical areas, including Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. The Zika virus is spread through bites from infected mosquitoes. When a person is infected, the first symptoms that develop are joint pain, fever, and red eyes. Commonly, an individual will not be aware that he or she has contracted Zika and will confuse symptoms with those brought on by other illnesses. Although the condition is mild, the effects may be felt up to one week after displaying symptoms. Luckily, after recovery, it is likely the person will be protected from future infection. The most serious complications occur in pregnant women. There is heightening evidence that connects Zika virus infection during pregnancy to devastating brain damage in a developing fetus. In rare cases, a person with a poor immune system will require hospitalization or will die from the virus. In May 2005, the first confirmed Zika virus infection was noted in Brazil. Nine months later, the World Health Organization declared this virus was an international public health emergency. Since then, transmission areas have spread and continue to expand. More about Zika Virus: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/about/index.html

Zika Prevention Tips

Unfortunately, no vaccine exits to lower the chances of developing Zika. However, to avoid infection, it is best to remain clear of areas with increased mosquito populations, especially countries with high Zika infection rates. Since sexual transmission is possible, the CDC advises affected individuals practice safe sex with condoms or abstinence. When a person is spending time in an area where Zika is present, wearing long-sleeves and pants is advised so that mosquitoes have less area of exposed skin to bite. Also, it is wise to remain indoors where air conditioning or screened windows exist. If a person is sleeping outdoors, a mosquito net should be used as a covering. EPA-registered insect repellents can be applied as well. When used as directed, they are safe and effective for everyone. More on Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/prevention/index.html

Protecting Others From Zika

When a person has become infected, it is essential to prevent others from getting sick. Throughout the first week of symptoms, Zika remains in the blood and can be passed from person to person from a mosquito bite, so it is important to avoid being bit. Also, Zika can be spread through sexual contact with an infected man. Since no one knows how long semen remains infectious, it is crucial to use condoms correctly during all forms of intercourse. If traveling outside the United States to a country with many Zika cases, it is important to take preventative measures when returning home. Although a person may not be infected with Zika, it is still important to protect others from potential problems. It is better to be safe than sorry. For the most updated information on the virus, it is best to visit the CDC's website. More information: Community Outreach and Education (Powerpoint Presentation) Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Zika Virus