Understanding Zika Virus

February 9, 2016 | Communicable Disease, Health

What is Zika? 

Zika is a virus spread to people through mosquito bites.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.

Is Zika spreading to the U.S?

There have been no locally transmitted cases in the continental U.S., however there have been cases reported in returning travelers. Imported cases could result in the spread of the virus in some areas of the United States.

Cases have been reported in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and America Samoa.

Where are outbreaks happening?

For a complete list and the latest Travel Notice Information see: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/index.html.

Is there a vaccine?

Currently there are no vaccines. Preventative measures include house screens, air-conditioning and removing mosquito-breeding sites such as standing water, debris in eaves and drains, dense brush and weeds, raked leaves and other decaying items like apples or berries.

Should I be worried about traveling?

The Center for Disease Control recommends women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant should consider postponing travel to areas where there is an outbreak.

If you are a male who has travelled to a country with a Zika outbreak it is recommended to abstain from sex or wear a condom for two weeks after, especially if having sex with a pregnant woman.

Brazil has reported cases of Microcephaly which may be attributed to Zika. Microcephaly is a condition where the baby’s head is much smaller than expected. In pregnancy, the head grows because the brain grows. Microcephaly can occur because the brain has not developed properly or has stopped growing after birth. To learn more, go to: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/birthdefects/microcephaly.html.

If you do plan to travel, it’s recommended you consult with your healthcare provider and take steps to avoid mosquito bites. http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/avoid-bug-bites

For more information:

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

http://dphhs.mt.gov/publichealth/cdepi/diseases/ZikaVirus/