What is Zika?
- Zika is a virus related to dengue, yellow fever, and West Nile virus.
- Zika is spread to humans primarily by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. This species is rarely, if ever, found in most of the United States, including Utah.
What are the symptoms and how dangerous is it?
- Only about 20% of those infected will develop symptoms, which include fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes. These symptoms usually last from 2-7 days. Zika illness is usually mild and rarely results in hospitalization or death.
- There is suspicion that Zika may cause microcephaly (a birth defect causing an abnormally small head) in infants due to their mothers being infected while pregnant. While this has not been definitively proven and the risk to pregnant women and their unborn children is unknown, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a Global Emergency in order to try to contain the spread of the disease.
- While the WHO has not recommended any travel restrictions at this time, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has advised pregnant women to postpone travel to affected areas. Women who are trying to become pregnant should consult with their doctor before such travel and should follow strict mosquito bite prevention methods.
How is Zika prevented?
- If you travel to a country where Zika is active, you can prevent mosquito bites by using insect repellent , wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and removing standing water where mosquitoes live and breed.
- Mosquito control efforts in areas where Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are found.
Where is Zika occurring?
- Since the first known Zika outbreak in Micronesia (2007), locally-acquired Zika infections were first detected in the Americas in May 2015. Local infections have now been reported in over 20 countries or territories in the region. Brazil remains the epicenter of the current outbreak. There have been no local mosquito-acquired cases reported in the United States.
How will the United States be affected?
- With Zika outbreaks in other countries, cases among U.S. travelers will likely increase for a period of time. However, it is unlikely that any large Zika outbreaks will occur in the United States. All current U.S. cases were infected during travel overseas, except one who was infected in Texas through sexual transmission by a partner who had traveled to South America.
Is there a Zika vaccine?
- No, however there are cooperative efforts being started to develop a vaccine, which may take several years.
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