The Zika virus is now making headlines due to outbreaks as well as the
reported risk to pregnant women which results in babies with birth defects.
The spread of Zika
As per the latest information provided by the CDC, the Zika virus has not
been transmitted within the United States. Cases of Zika virus have been
reported in returning travelers within the United States. Countries with
reports of Zika virus transmission include Africa, Southeast Asia and
the Pacific Islands. Zika virus is now seen in Brazil as well. In addition,
cases have been reported in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and America
Samoa. Other specific locations are published at the CDC’s website.
For the latest updates, please visit the
What is the Zika virus?
The Zika virus is a mosquito-transmitted infection new to the Western Hemisphere
and related to dengue, yellow fever and West Nile virus. Discovered in
the Zika forest in Uganda in 1947, hence its name, the virus is common
in Africa and Asia but did not spread widely into the Western Hemisphere
until last May, when an outbreak occurred in Brazil.
Almost no one on the Western Hemisphere had been infected by Zika until
now. Few people on this side of the world have immune defenses against
the virus, so it is spreading rapidly. Millions of people in tropical
regions of the Americas may become infected.
Despite its rapid spread, the majority of those infected experience no
symptoms and no lasting harm. Scientific concern is focused on women who
become infected while pregnant and those who develop a temporary form
of paralysis after exposure to the Zika virus.
(Information courtesy of the
Zika virus symptoms
Zika is a disease spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected
mosquito. Sexual transmission has now been reported as well. Approximately
one in five of those infected with Zika will contract the disease and
show symptoms. Although reports of Zika contraction have not included
the continental United States, cases have involved returning travelers.
This could increase the local spread of Zika. Anyone experiencing the
following symptoms should seek medical attention:
- Joint pain
- Conjunctivitis (red eyes)
How to avoid Zika
Anyone living in or traveling to an area with confirmed Zika transmission
is at risk to contract the virus, including pregnant women. Specific locations
of Zika transmission is difficult to determine and potentially changing.
Please visit the CDC Travelers' Health site for the most updated information
on locations with confirmed Zika transmission. Avoiding travel to these
confirmed locations, wearing insect repellant, long sleeves and pants
will reduce the risk of contraction.
For further information regarding the Zika virus, its spread, effects on
pregnancy and infection prevention, please refer to the Center for Disease
Control and Prevention.