Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Zika Virus Awareness

The Zika virus is a virus that is rapidly growing. The main carriers for the virus are infected mosquitoes. While these mosquitoes can be active at night, they are primarily out during the day which is why it is important to wear bug spray and find out ways to ward off those pesky insects.

What is the Zika virus exactly?

The Zika virus is known for causing birth defects. As mentioned above, the virus was originally spread by mosquitoes who would pass it on through aggressive biting. Once someone is infected, they can also pass it on to their partner through sex. The virus causes birth defects by entering the fetus and infecting it. It is also associated with other pregnancy issues.

What are the symptoms?

If someone is infected, statistics show one in five with the virus will actually show symptoms. Symptoms associated with the virus include fever, rash, joint pain, and can also show red marks in the white part of the eye. The virus can cause flu-symptoms as well which typically last a few days up to a little over a week. Unfortunately, there are currently no treatments for the virus. Researchers are currently testing vaccines, but they are not yet obtainable.

For babies who are affected with the virus, they will have a stunted head growth which can cause tremendous brain damage and has a good chance resulting in a still birth or a miscarriage. As a result, there are quite a few countries telling pregnant women they should not travel to other countries known to have the virus. Researchers say that as of September 15, 2016, 750 women in the U.S. had confirmed they had the virus. As of September 21, 2016, more than 3,300 travelers had cases of the ZIKA virus. A very small handful was sexually transmitted. 

How can I protect myself and help to spread awareness?
  • Use insect repellent that is EPA-registered
  • Protect your skin by using long sleeved clothing and long pants
  • Staying in places that have air conditioning as well as windows and doors with screens is safe
  • Do not keep standing water in or around the home
  • Share this information with people you know 
  • If you have been to any of the countries known to have the virus, get a checkup with your doctor

The following link will hopefully be useful and shows all the countries currently battling the virus: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/active-countries.html

For those traveling, stay safe and be sure to carry insect repellent! The virus is said to spread even more this upcoming year.

Learn more about the Zika Virus here: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/about/index.html

Author: Beth Jeffries, MHC Healthcare Volunteer

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