Zika Virus, also known as ZIKV, is the latest infectious disease threat to capture the attention of the American public. With its origin in Brazil, the host country of this year’s Summer Olympics, and its association with potentially severe birth defects, Zika understandably has many people concerned.
In the continental United States, there have recently been confirmed cases of Zika infection transmitted by mosquitoes in one Miami, Florida neighborhood. At least for now, however, there is very little risk of a person becoming infected with Zika from mosquitoes here in the Midwest. At this time there are NO locally transmitted cases of Zika Virus in the greater Kansas City area.
The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes. Other symptoms include muscle pain and headache. Many people infected with Zika won’t have symptoms or will have mild symptoms, which last less than a week. However, Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly and other severe brain defects.
The most common way of becoming infected with Zika Virus is to be bitten by an Aedes species
mosquito that has bitten another person infected with the virus. It can also be transmitted by an infected pregnant woman to her baby, or by a person having unprotected sex with an infected partner.
Because there is currently no vaccine or treatment for ZIKV, the best approach to the virus is PREVENTION OF MOSQUITO BITES and reduction of potential mosquito breeding places where we work, play and live.
Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
Stay in places with air conditioning and window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside
Take steps to control mosquitoes inside and outside your home
Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – registered insect repellents, following the product label instructions.
Eliminating standing water in and around homes and businesses will make it more difficult for mosquitoes to breed. This can be done by dumping and draining items that hold water, such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpots, or trash containers; and tightly covering water storage containers. To keep mosquitoes out of your homes and businesses use screens on windows and doors, repair holes in screens, and use air conditioning when available.
Mosquito breeding may be addressed in public areas such as parks by using chemical applications to kill mosquito eggs/larvae.
For more information on this rapidly changing public health issue, visit http://www.cdc.gov/zika or www.jacohd.org or http://www.cdc.gov/zika/prevention/prevent-mosquito-bites.html .
Caution: Pregnant women should not travel to any area with Zika, which currently includes 2 counties in the Miami, Florida Area.
Our guest author Ellen Dorshow-Gordon, MPH, MT(ASCP) is an epidemiologist with the Jackson County Health Department. She is a guest author for the Lee’s Summit Health Education Advisory Board.