Zika virus - what we know

Posted by Lighthouse Staff on

What is the Zika virus?

Zika is a mosquito-borne virus. The most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting several days to a week. People usually do not get sick enough to go to the hospital and rarely die of Zika.

Where is the Zika virus present?

Not in Bermuda at this time. The Zika virus is found in the Caribbean, Central America, South America as well as some pacific islands and Cape Verde.

How can I catch Zika?

Usually through the bite of infected Aedes mosquitoes. Aedes are aggressive daytime biters but can also bite at night.

Mosquitoes get Zika when biting an already infected person, then spread the virus to other people through bites. Zika can pass from a pregnant mother to her baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth.

Why is it bad?

Serious birth defect called microcephaly (a condition in which a baby’s head is smaller than expected) and other poor pregnancy outcomes have occurred in babies of mothers infected with Zika virus while pregnant.

How to prevent Zika?

There is no vaccine and the only effective prevention is avoiding mosquito bites. Avoid the areas where disease-carrying mosquitoes live. If this is not possible, we suggest wearing long-sleeve shirts and long pants. Stay in places with air conditioning or where screen doors can keep mosquitoes out. Use a mosquito bed net if staying overseas or sleeping outside. Use an EPA-registered insect repellent. Treat clothing and gear with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated items. Treated clothing remains protective after multiple washings. Do NOT use permethrin directly on skin.

What if I am pregnant or plan to have a baby?

CDC recommends special precautions for the following groups:

Women who are pregnant (in any trimester):

  • Consider postponing travel to any area where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.

  • If you must travel to one of these areas, talk to your doctor first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip.

    Women who are trying to become pregnant:

  • Before you travel, talk to your doctor about your plans to become pregnant and the risk of Zika virus infection.

Strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip.



How to treat it?

There is no specific medicine. Treat the symptoms:
  • Rest and drink fluids to prevent dehydration.

  • Take acetaminophen to reduce fever and pain.

  • Do NOT take aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

  • If you are taking medicine for another medical condition, talk to your healthcare provider before taking additional medication.

 


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