What is Zika?

·      The Zika virus is a virus spread through mosquitos

o   through the bite of an infected Aedes species

o   same mosquitoes that spread dengue and chikungunya viruses

·      Is most common in Africa, Southeast Asia, and Central and South America

·      The CDC confirmed cases of the virus in the United States for the first time in January

·      Virologists are concerned about Zika virus spreading and causing a US outbreak

o   Because of how quickly it has spread in recent years

o   First arrival in Puerto Rico during the holidays, and new reports of isolated cases in Texas this past month heightened concern

·      Previously, it took the Zika virus over a century to spread through Central Africa and to the Far East

o    Another 8 years before it was seen across the Pacific in South America

o   Now the rate of the viral spread has increased

§  Spread through Mexico and the Caribbean by the end of 2015

·      This is why scientists worry it will quickly spread through the United States as well

What are the symptoms of Zika?

·      Fever

·      Rash

·      Joint pain

·      Eye redness

·      Symptoms are similar to those of dengue and chikungunya

·      Severe disease is uncommon

How is Zika treated?

·      Currently, there is not medication available to treat Zika

·      As with other viruses, Zika relies on the body’s immune system to fight it off

·      With proper rest and hydration usually goes away within a week

·      You can take over the counter medicine to help reduce fever and aches or pains

·      Prevention of Zika comes from avoiding mosquito bites

o   Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.

o   Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside

o   Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are overseas or outside and are not able to protect yourself from mosquito bites

o   Use insect repellant

 How serious is the Zika virus?

·      The Zika virus is not fatal, but can pose some serious health complications

o   For example, the virus has been linked to microcephaly in infants whose mothers had been affected by the virus

o   A mother already infected with Zika virus near the time of delivery can pass on the virus to her newborn around the time of birth

o   It is possible that Zika virus could be passed from mother to fetus during pregnancy

·       Zika has also evolved in behavior making it possible to spread faster, and spread sexually

·      Spread of the virus through blood transfusion and sexual contact have been reported