Currently we hear a lot about Zika and the possibility of it becoming a pandemic. Just today, I saw the following statement on Drudge “With health authorities warning the disease could infect up to four million people in the Americas, ministers from 14 countries held talks in Uruguay to plot their response to the growing crisis, with fears the virus could spread worldwide.
The meeting focused on ways to control the mosquito population spreading the virus, though reports of a US patient catching the disease by having sex fueled fears that it will not be easy to contain.”
The disease is spread by mosquitoes and is now believed to also be spread by sexual contact. Doctors are now advising people to use condoms to prevent the spread by sexual contact. Zika is now present in 26 countries in the Americas including the United States.
According to the CDC, the symptoms of Zika are
- About 1 in 5 people infected with Zika virus become ill (i.e., develop Zika).
- The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache. The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) for Zika virus disease is not known, but is likely to be a few days to a week.
- The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week.
- People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika.
- Zika virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for about a week but it can be found longer in some people.
- There is no vaccine to prevent or specific medicine to treat Zika infections.
- Treat the symptoms:
- Get plenty of rest.
- Drink fluids to prevent dehydration.
- Take medicine such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) to relieve fever and pain.
- Do not take aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
- If you are taking medicine for another medical condition, talk to your healthcare provider before taking additional medication.
- Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections.
Zika has been reported to cause a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly (a condition in which a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age) and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant. There is also some suspicion that Zika causes Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) a rare disorder where a person’s own immune system damages the nerve cells, causing muscle weakness and sometimes, paralysis. These symptoms can last a few weeks or several months. While most people fully recover from GBS, some people have permanent damage and in rare cases, people have died.
So what should you do to prevent the spread of Zika?
Avoid mosquito bites. You can do this by using some of the following suggestions.
- Wear tight-weave cotton shirts and pants instead of porous synthetics.
- Mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors, especially blue. Wear khaki or neutral colors.
- Avoid the use of scented soaps, lotions, or shampoos.
- If you are going to be spending a lot of time outside, think about getting a head net.
- Avoid getting too hot. Mosquitoes are thought to be attracted to warm bodies, so staying cool is one way to avoid bites. When you are hot you may emit more carbon dioxide.
- Mosquitoes are attracted by the smell of carbon dioxide and can smell their dinner from an impressive distance of up to 50 meters.
- Use mosquito repellents. Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months of age.
- Make sure the window screens on your home are in good shape.
- Clean up any standing water to deny mosquitoes a place to breed.
- Use condoms, to avoid the disease being spread by sexual contact.
If you are pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant, be sure and take extra precautions, particularly if you live in the Southern United States or South America. The U.S. mainland does have the type of mosquitoes that can become infected with and spread Zika virus. The mosquitoes can spread it after biting an infected individual. With the current situation of large numbers of illegal immigrants entering the country it is my believe that there is every possibility of Zika becoming widespread.