What You Need to Know About Zika

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ZikaMosquitoWhat is Zika?

Zika disease is caused by a virus, which is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika.

What are the symptoms of Zika virus disease?

The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

How do you treat Zika virus disease?

If you suspect you might have been exposed to the bite of a Zika-carrying mosquito, call your healthcare provider. Typically Zika is treated by treating the symptoms. Get plenty of rest, drink

fluids to prevent dehydration, and take medicines that reduce fever and pain. Until dengue, another disease spread by the same mosquito, is ruled out, do not take aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce the risks of internal bleeding.

Is there a vaccine against Zika virus disease?

No, a vaccine does not exist.

What about Zika and pregnancy?

Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly, as well as other severe fetal brain defects.

What is microcephaly?

Microcephaly occurs when a baby is born with a head smaller than normal. During pregnancy a baby’s head grows because the baby’s brain grows. Children with microcephaly have underdeveloped brains. Microcephaly can be an isolated condition, meaning that it can occur with no other major birth defects, or it can occur in combination with other major birth defects.

Do all mosquitoes carry Zika?

No, the Zika virus is spread by the Aedes species mosquito. This species of mosquitoes bites mostly during the day.

What should I do to prevent mosquito bites?

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Stay in places with air conditioning and window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
  • Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are overseas or outside and are not able to protect yourself from mosquito bites.
  • Use insect repellents registered with the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) with one of the following ingredients
  1. DEET
  2. Picaridin
  3. IR3535
  4. o para-menthanediol
  5. o oil of lemon eucalyptus

Why should I choose an EPA-registered repellent?

This will ensure that the EPA has evaluated and approved the product as safe whenused as indicated by the instructions on the label. When used as directed, EPA registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

How do I protect children? Can I use insect repellent?

Adults should spray insect repellent onto their hands and then apply to a child’s face; avoid the eyes and mouth. Do not apply insect repellent onto a child’s hands or cut or irritated skin. Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old. Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus or paramenthanediol on children younger than 3 years old.

In addition:

  • Cover crib, stroller, and baby carrier with mosquito netting.
  • Dress children in clothing that covers arms and legs.

 

Is there a way to treat my clothes with insect repellent?

Treat clothing and gear with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated items.The clothing will remain protective after multiple washings. Read the product information to learn how long the protection will last. NOTE: DO NOT use permethrin products directly on skin. They are intended to treat clothing.

 Is it true that Zika can be passed on during sex?

Yes. The Zika virus lives longer in semen than in blood.

 What is the best way to prevent the spread of sexually-acquired Zika?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, abstaining from sex is the one sure way to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted Zika.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
To learn more about the Zika, visit the Saint Peter’s Better Health Library.

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