What do CT residents and Charlotte Hungerford Hospital employees need to know about the Zika Virus?
What is in the news?
Late last year, Brazil, the largest country in South America reported that newborns were being diagnosed with microcephaly. After the data was reported the WHO General initiated an apprehension even though scientific evidence was still being investigated.
On March 18, 2016, the CT DPH has reported confirmed the first case of Zika virus in the state.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Zika virus is a disease that is caused by transmission of Aedes mosquitos and can be found in urban and tropical areas. Zika is in the same family of viruses that cause dengue, yellow fever, and chickungunya. The disease can be sexually transmitted from a man to his sex partners, and is found to be present longer in semen than in blood. It is still unknown whether or not the virus can be sexually transmitted from a woman. Agencies investigating the Zika outbreaks are finding a great deal of information about the relationship between the virus and microcephaly; and exploration is ongoing to see how likely it is that the virus will affect pregnancy and cause harm or birth defects to the fetus.
Not everyone who is infected with Zika virus feels sick or has symptoms. Research has shown that infected individuals will mostly have mild symptoms such as: fever, rash, joint pain, muscle aches, and a headache. The incubation period for the virus is about one week, and the illness lasts another week before it’s cleared from the bloodstream.
What is Microcephaly?
According to the CDC, Microcephaly is a significant birth defect that has a variety of symptoms depending on the severity or state of the condition. Some of these symptoms include but not limited to:
• Developmental Delays (speech, psychological, and physical complications)
• Inability to learn daily life skills
• Movement and balance
• Difficulty swallowing and other eating concerns
• Loss of hearing
• Difficulty with visual acuity
The CDC has notified clinicians across the United States to revise their protocols making sure they are asking their patients about recent travel outside of the U.S. specifically to countries in South America, Central America, and The Caribbean.
Travel Recommendations/ Restrictions
It is preferred that women who are or may soon become pregnant should not travel to countries with Zika transmission due to the risk of the baby. If you do plan on traveling, the CDC provides on their site a list of countries for spring break getaways.
Keep in mind, if you are planning to become pregnant, it is highly recommended to wait until after you return from your trip and that you are outside that window of infection, which is two weeks after you return back to your home. On the CDC’s webpage, it has been reported that the Zika Virus will not cause infections in the baby conceived after the mother has recovered from the illness.
Infection Control Precautionary Measures
If you are planning to travel, take precautions to minimize the risk of getting a mosquito bite. Below are some suggestions that should be put into consideration.
• Wear long sleeve clothing that covers skin.
• Use insect repellent as directed by the product’s manufacturer.
• Reapply as indicated on the instructions.
• Do not apply to children younger than two months.
• Do not use on the hands, mouth, cuts or on open skin tears of children.
• Avoid getting sun-burns by applying sunscreen and then insect repellent.
• Avoid having insects indoors.
• All windows should have screens or mosquito nets on them.
• If camping, using permethrin-treated bed nets when sleeping, because mosquitoes do come out at night.
If you feel ill, see your Primary Care Doctor.
• Don’t take aspirin or non-steroidal anti-flammatory medications.
• To manage fever, use Acetaminophin (Tylenol).
• If you suspect having the Zika Virus, avoid areas of mosquitoes where you can put yourself at a higher risk of getting bit.