7 Things You Should Know About Zika and How To Prevent It
Since Zika first gained international attention in early 2016, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has sought to educate the public about the little-known virus. Prior to its discovery in the Americas, not much was known about its workings, but scientists are racing to understand it more and develop a vaccine. Here’s what you should know:
1) How You Can Get Zika
According to the CDC, Zika is most commonly transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito, but it can also be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her unborn child and through sexual contact with an infected partner.
2) Where Zika is Present
In the western hemisphere, Zika is primarily being transmitted in Latin America and the Caribbean. Many of the U.S. cases are in territories or represent imported cases that were acquired while traveling. That said there are cases of local transmission in the continental U.S. that have been reported in Florida and Texas.
3) Zika’s Most Common Symptoms
The virus can cause headache, fever, eye pain, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes), but because these symptoms can be easily mistaken for other illnesses, it’s important to see a doctor if you’re concerned you may have the virus. Infected persons will usually have at least two of these symptoms.
4) How Long Zika Stays in the Bloodstream
Once you contract the virus, it can be found in the bloodstream for about one week after symptoms show up and for about two weeks in urine. In vaginal secretions the virus stays present for one to two months and in semen for up to three months, but scientists are still refining these figures as more is learned.
5) Amount of Time to Wait to Have a Child if the Virus is Contracted
The CDC recommends that women wait two months to have children if they tested positive for Zika. A recent CDC report found that serious birth defects have been seen in about one in 12 – about eight percent – of fetuses or infants of pregnant women with Zika infection in the first trimester.
6) Precautions to Take Against Getting Zika
To prevent mosquitoes from biting you, health officials recommend wearing long pants, long sleeve shirts, and clothing treated with insect repellent. They also advise people to drain water containers in and around the home to prevent mosquito breeding.
7) Lifelong Immunity Against the Virus
If you do contract the virus, the good news is that scientists believe you’ll be immune for life and that you can no longer act as a host for virus. More people having the virus actually helps end the outbreak, since it makes it harder to maintain the virus in the mosquito population. If mosquitoes are biting immune people, they aren’t passing the virus to them and allowing other mosquitoes to pick up the virus.
Photo source: CDC