Is Zika Virus a threat in the US? Yes. Is it a pandemic, or of emergency proportions? No. Not at this time.
While the WHO (World Health Organization did declare the Zika virus to be a global health emergency, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention) say that it is not a serious threat in the USA... yet.
While the mosquitoes that spread the disease do exist in the US, the virus is not yet prevalent enough to consider it a likely risk, and certainly not yet anything approaching pandemic proportions. The CDC explains that Zika virus is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito (A. aegypti and A. albopictus). These are the same mosquitoes that spread dengue and chikungunya viruses.
- These mosquitoes typically lay eggs in and near standing water in things like buckets, bowls, animal dishes, flower pots and vases. They prefer to bite people, and live indoors and outdoors near people.
- Mosquitoes that spread chikungunya, dengue, and Zika are aggressive daytime biters. They can also bite at night.
- Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on a person already infected with the virus. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to other people through bites.
Also (rarely) from mother to child
- A mother already infected with Zika virus near the time of delivery can pass on the virus to her newborn around the time of birth, but this is rare.
- It is possible that Zika virus could be passed from a mother to her baby during pregnancy. We are studying how some mothers can pass the virus to their babies.
- To date, there are no reports of infants getting Zika virus through breastfeeding. Because of the benefits of breastfeeding, mothers are encouraged to breastfeed even in areas where Zika virus is found.
Sometimes through infected blood or sexual contact
- Spread of the virus through blood transfusion and sexual contact have been reported.
ZIKA VIRUS FACTS:
~ No vaccine exists to prevent Zika virus disease (Zika).
~ Prevent Zika by avoiding mosquito bites (see below).
~ Mosquitoes that spread Zika virus bite mostly during the daytime.
~ Mosquitoes that spread Zika virus also spread dengue and chikungunya viruses.
So why is everyone talking about Zika Virus?
There have been over 50 reported Zika cases in the US thus far - but they are all travel related.
If traveling to a an area where Zika virus or other viruses spread by mosquitoes are found (or if you are pregnant and concerned that you might be near someone who has traveled to one of these areas and could be infected) take these precautions recommended by the CDC:
- Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breast-feeding women.
- Always follow the product label instructions
- Reapply insect repellent as directed.
- Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.
- If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent.
- If you have a baby or child:
- Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months of age.
- Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs, or
- Cover crib, stroller, and baby carrier with mosquito netting.
- Do not apply insect repellent onto a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, and cut or irritated skin.
- Adults: Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child’s face.
- Treat clothing and gear with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated items.
- Treated clothing remains protective after multiple washings. See product information to learn how long the protection will last.
- If treating items yourself, follow the product instructions carefully.
- Do NOT use permethrin products directly on skin. They are intended to treat clothing.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
- Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are overseas or outside and are not able to protect yourself from mosquito bites.
Areas with active mosquito-borne transmission of Zika virus
- Prior to 2015, Zika virus outbreaks occurred in areas of Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands.
- In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infections in Brazil.
- Currently, outbreaks are occurring in many countries.
- Zika virus will continue to spread and it will be difficult to determine how and where the virus will spread over time.
About 1 in 5 people infected with Zika virus become ill (i.e., develop Zika).
The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache. The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) for Zika virus disease is not known, but is likely to be a few days to a week.
The illness 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.
Zika virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for about a week but it can be found longer in some people.
There is no vaccine to prevent or specific medicine to treat Zika infections.
Treat the symptoms:
- Get plenty of rest.
- Drink fluids to prevent dehydration.
- Take medicine such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) to relieve fever and pain.
- Do not take aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
- If you are taking medicine for another medical condition, talk to your healthcare provider before taking additional medication.
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.
An infected mosquito can then spread the virus to other people.