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What You Need to Know About Zika Virus

Zika outbreaks are currently happening in many countries and territories. The mosquitoes that can become infected with and spread Zika live in many parts of the world, including parts of the United States. Currently there have been 618 reported cases of Zika in the United States. In all of these cases, those with the virus had recently travelled to a country where Zika virus is prevalent.

Zero local mosquito-borne Zika cases have been reported in US states.

We spoke with Connie Schmidt, RN, MPH, CIC, Manager of Infection Prevention and Control, to learn more about Zika.

Q: How do people catch Zika virus?
Zika virus is primarily transmitted to people through the bite of infected mosquitoes – there are two types of Aedes species mosquito that are known carriers. Zika virus can also be transmitted through sexual intercourse.

Q: What are the symptoms of Zika virus?
Zika virus usually causes mild illness. Symptoms most commonly include a slight fever or rash, appearing a few days after a person is bitten by an infected mosquito. Although many will not develop any symptoms at all, others may also suffer from conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, and feel tired. The symptoms usually last from 2 to 7 days.

People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected. However, Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly, as well as other severe fetal brain defects. Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections. At this time it is not known how long the virus remains in a body following an infection.

Q: How is Zika virus treated?
The symptoms of Zika virus can be treated with common pain and fever medicines, rest and plenty of water. If symptoms worsen, people should seek medical advice.

Q: What can people do to protect themselves from mosquito bites?
The best protection from Zika virus is preventing mosquito bites. Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant and their sexual partners should take extra care to protect themselves from the bites of the mosquito that transmits Zika. This can be done by:
· Wearing clothes (preferably light-colored) that cover as much of the body as possible.
· Using insect repellent: repellents may be applied to exposed skin or to clothing. Repellents must be used in strict accordance with the label instructions. They are safe for use by pregnant women.
· Using physical barriers such mesh screens in windows and doors to keep mosquitos out of your home.
· Identifying and eliminating potential mosquito breeding sites, by emptying, cleaning or covering containers that can hold even small amounts of water, such as buckets, flower pots, and tires.

To learn more about Zika, please visit

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