Feb 1, 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Zika virus a public health emergency of international concern because of its overwhelming spread across countries.
The Zika virus was first discovered in 1947. The Zika virus disease is a disease is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito however; sexual transmission of the virus has been attributed in 2 cases.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report the most common symptoms of fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is 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. Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections.
Prevention relies on reducing mosquitoes through removal and modification of breeding sites and reducing contact between mosquitoes and people. This can be done by:
- using insect repellent;
- wearing light-colored clothes that cover as much of the body as possible;
- using physical barriers such as window screens,
- closed doors and windows;
- sleeping under mosquito nets during the day;
- breeding sites should be cleaned or removed including containers that can store water, such as buckets, drums, flowerpots, and roof gutters.
The WHO recommends people sick with Zika virus should get plenty of rest, drink enough fluids, and treat pain and fever according to medical advice. If symptoms worsen, seek medical attention. There is currently no vaccine available. For more information check out the Centers for Disease Control www.cdc.gov or the World Health Organization www.who.int