Information is the key to avoiding Zika infection - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Information is the key to avoiding Zika infection

The Zika virus is spread by infected mosquitoes. Preventing mosquito bites is the first and only line of defense against the spread of the virus. (Source: CNN) The Zika virus is spread by infected mosquitoes. Preventing mosquito bites is the first and only line of defense against the spread of the virus. (Source: CNN)

The United States is on edge since the World Health Organization's alarming announcement that Zika virus is "spreading explosively" in North and South America and could infect 4 million people within a year.

More than 20 countries have reported outbreaks of the mosquito-borne illness and at this writing, there are 82 known cases in the continental U.S.

There is no vaccine and not much is known about the connection between the disease and infected mothers having babies born with abnormally small heads and potential brain damage.

Precaution and prevention is the key, and the Centers for Disease Control website has voluminous information about the virus, the mosquitoes the spread it and ways to protect yourself. Here is a condensed version of pertinent advice from the CDC and other sources:

Preventing Zika:

  • There is no vaccine.
  • Prevent Zika by avoiding mosquito bites.
  • The same mosquitoes that spread Zika spread dengue and chikungunya viruses.

Avoiding mosquito bites:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts or pants.
  • Stay in places with air-conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes out.
  • Sleep under a mosquito net, especially if you are outside.
  • Use EPA-registered insect repellants, which all have been evaluated for effectiveness.
  • Follow the product label instructions.
  • Reapply as directed.
  • Do not spray repellent on skin under clothing.
  • If you are using sunscreen, apply sunscreen before applying repellant.

If you have a baby or child:

  • Do not apply insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old.
  • Dress child in clothing that covers arms and legs.
  • Cover crib, stroller and baby carrier with mosquito netting.
  • Do not apply insect repellent directly to child’s hands, eyes, mouth, and cut or irritated skin.
  • Adults: Spray repellent on your hands and gently apply to child’s face.

Treat clothing with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated items:

  • Treated clothing remains protective after multiple washings; check product information to learn how long it lasts.
  • If treating items yourself, follow product instructions exactly.
  • Do NOT use permethrin products directly on skin. They are intended only to treat clothing.

If you have Zika, keep others from getting sick:

During the first week of infection, Zika virus and be found in the blood and passes from an infected person to another mosquito that bites them. The mosquito then passes the disease to other people.

Here is a link to a PDF on how to prevent mosquito bites:

CDC Travel Advisories:

This links to a CDC page that is constantly updated with the latest information on Zika outbreaks and treatment.

If you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, the CDC recommends special precautions:

Pregnant women in any trimester should consider postponing travel to any country with a Zika outbreak.

If travel is unavoidable, talk to your doctor or healthcare professional about steps to prevent mosquito bites, see above, and download this PDF.

Check this CDC page that updates with the latest travel information.

How Zika affects you or your unborn baby:

  • Brazil has reported multiple cases of hydroencephaly and other poor pregnancy outcomes in women infected with the Zika virus.
  • The correlation between the two diseases is not known. Studies are underway and others have been planned.
  • The exact risk to the baby if a pregnant woman is infected by Zika is not known – but that does not mean to ignore the risk.

Using insect repellant if you are pregnant:

  • Use it, by all means. Choose an EPA-registered insect repellant and use according to product label.

If you are not pregnant and are infected:

  • The virus usually stays in the blood for only a few days to a week. There is no evidence that Zika infection poses a risk to future pregnancies.
  • A woman contemplating pregnancy after recently recovering from Zika should consult her healthcare provider.

Getting tested if you are pregnant and have recently traveled to a Zika-affected country:

  • See your healthcare provider if you are pregnant and develop a rash, fever, joint pain or red eyes within two weeks of traveling in a country where Zika virus has been reported. Be sure to tell your healthcare provider where you traveled.
  • Only one in five people infected with Zika become symptomatic. If you are pregnant and have traveled to an affected country, for your own peace of mind you might want to see your doctor when you get home.

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