You are probably used to hearing news about the Zika virus by now. Here is a reminder on the basic information and precautions to take, along with current advisories from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Health officials are urging people – especially pregnant women – to take extra steps to limit the risk of infection. Zika is a virus transmitted primarily by Aedes mosquitoes. Experts say you should take precautions both when traveling and at home.
Most people who contract the Zika virus show little to no symptoms (fever, rash, joint pain, and/or red eyes) for a few days. However, the virus may cause severe birth defects in babies born to women infected during pregnancy. Among these birth defects is microencephaly, a condition that causes an abnormally small head and incomplete brain development.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), your best defense against the virus is to avoid travel to places where Zika is found and to do everything you can to prevent mosquito bites. Zika is also spread through sexual contact. Pregnant women are urged to use condoms or to not have sex for the duration of the pregnancy if a partner lives in, or has traveled to, flagged Zika zones. The CDC also advises women who are, or could be pregnant, not to travel to the Caribbean (including Puerto Rico), Central and South America, or other areas where Zika is known to be spreading (such as Miami, Florida). If you’re planning travel and are pregnant, or are considering becoming pregnant, talk with your doctor.
CDC tips to avoid mosquito bites:
- Use an EPA-registered mosquito repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or p-Menthane-3,8-diol. (Use only as directed.)
- Wear light-colored, long sleeves/pants.
- Stay in screened or air-conditioned rooms.
- Drain water from garbage cans, tarps and other sources of standing water where mosquitoes may breed.
Pregnant women at risk for Zika should be tested, the CDC says. For more info, go to www.cdc.gov/zika/.