Zika Virus

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January 15, 2018
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Zika Virus

Zika Virus
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Zika virus is a type of infection that is transmitted primarily by mosquito bites.  There are cases, though, of the virus being transmitted through sexual contact.  Officials are still learning about this virus therefore most of the  implications if an individual is infected are not known.

What is known is that the virus is spreading rapidly.  About 80% of all individuals who are infected have no symptoms.  Those individuals who do develop symptoms usually have mild symptoms which are similar to other viral infections.  The symptoms usually last for a few days to up to a week and include fever, rash, joint pain and a conjunctivitis.  Severe disease is not common.

There are currently no vaccines, preventative medications or even treating medications for this illness.  If symptoms do develop, use of acetaminophen is generally recommended for comfort.  If a woman is pregnant, has these symptoms and has been potentially exposed to the virus, she should immediately contact her obstetrician.

To prevent an infection, it is recommended that an individual not travel to areas with ongoing virus transmission (see http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/), not have sex with an individual who could be infected and prevent exposure to mosquitos.  The mosquitos that spread Zika virus are mostly daytime biters but are active at dusk and dawn as well and can bite indoors or outdoors.  Use of insect repellant is recommended (see http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/avoid-bug-bites).

A woman who is pregnant with Zika virus might transmit the virus to her unborn child.  The rates of transmission are not known at this time.  There have been reports of microcephaly (small brain development) in infants who were infected during pregnancy but the actual risk is not known at this time.  Studies are currently underway.

For more information, the following CDC and WHO links can be helpful:

http://www.cdc.gov/zika/

http://www.cdc.gov/zika/pregnancy/question-answers.html

http://www.cdc.gov/zika/prevention/index.html

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/zika/en/

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