With spring finally upon us, and many people heading south for their spring break, it’s important to know how to protect yourself from the Zika virus.
What is Zika Virus?
Zika virus is a disease that spreads to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito. Though Zika virus outbreaks had previously occurred in Africa and Southeast Asia, 2015 marked the first year of documented outbreaks in Brazil and other South American countries. Out of 176 known species of mosquitoes in the United States, only two known species are capable of spreading Zika. In the U.S. in 2016, Texas and Florida reported cases of Zika virus being transmitted locally, the bite of a mosquito. Other states that had Zika virus cases were the result of travelers returning from Zika affected areas.
SymptomsAlthough most people who are infected with Zika won't know it, some will show mild symptoms such as fever, rash or joint pain. The biggest concern is to pregnant women. Zika has been linked to a birth defect known as microcephaly, in which the baby is born with a smaller than average sized brain.
Is Zika preventable?There is no vaccine or medicine available to treat Zika, but the best way to protect yourself is to protect against mosquito bites by practicing the following habits; •Eliminate standing water in and around your home. Mosquitoes need standing water to breed.•Use an EPA-registered insect repellant•Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when outside, to protect against bites.•Pre-treat your clothes with permethrin to deter mosquitoes.•Use screens in your windows to prevent mosquitoes from entering your home.
Health concernsAlthough nearly 80 percent of individuals infected with Zika won't show symptoms, and won't know they are infected, it can be a serious concern for pregnant women. Zika virus can be passed from an infected mother to her fetus and cause several major birth defects.
For the latest information on Zika virus visit the Centers for Disease Control's website.
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