Public Health Emergencies
Zika virus is a disease that is transmitted primarily through the bite of infected Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes. Outbreaks of the Zika virus are ongoing in Central and South America, the Caribbean, the Pacific Islands, Mexico and Puerto Rico. No local mosquito-borne Zika virus disease cases have been reported in the United States, but there have been travel-associated cases. There also are confirmed cases of sexual transmission of Zika from males to their partners.
The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) cautions travelers to protect themselves against mosquito bites when heading to countries where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Pregnant women should not travel to areas where there is ongoing Zika virus transmission because of the causal link between Zika virus and serious birth defects and poor pregnancy outcomes. Zika virus infection has also been shown to be a cause of neurological disorders like Guillain–Barre Syndrome.
SYMPTOMS OF ZIKA
Most people with Zika virus do not know they are infected. Among those who do develop symptoms, sickness is usually mild, with symptoms lasting for several days to a week.
Symptoms of Zika include:
- Joint Pain
- Conjunctivitis (red eyes)
HOW TO TREAT ZIKA
There is no medicine to treat Zika virus infection, nor is there a vaccine to protect against infection.
Talk to your doctor if you develop a fever with a rash, joint pain or red eyes after returning home. Be sure to inform them of your travel history.
Even if they do not feel sick, travelers returning to the United States from an area with Zika should take steps to prevent mosquito bites for 3 weeks so that they do not spread Zika to local mosquitoes, who can then spread Zika to other people.
Asymptomatic men who have traveled to an area with epidemic Zika should use condoms for 8 weeks to protect their sex partners. Men who develop Zika symptoms or are diagnosed with Zika should use condoms for 6 months. If the man’s partner is pregnant, the couple should either use condoms or not have sex during the pregnancy.
Women who have traveled to an area with epidemic Zika but don’t have symptoms should wait 8 weeks after travel before trying to get pregnant. Women who also have Zika symptoms should wait at least 8 weeks after symptoms start before trying to get pregnant.
HOW CAN ZIKA BE PREVENTED?
Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika. Pregnant women should not travel to areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Travelers should check CDC travel advisories for their destinations and take precautions to protect themselves from mosquitoes:
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
- Use EPA-registered insect repellents containing 20%-30% DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), or IR3535 (use as directed)
- Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents)
- Stay and sleep in screened-in or air-conditioned rooms or use a mosquito net
PREVENTING ZIKA FROM SPREADING
Aedes aegypti, the yellow fever mosquito, is currently found only in a few areas of Georgia, while Aedes albopictus, the Asian tiger mosquito, is found all over Georgia. These are both aggressive mosquitoes that bite mostly during the daytime. Aedes mosquitoes are called “container breeders” because they lay eggs in any type of container with water – they will lay eggs in a bottle cap if it has water in it.
One of the most effective ways of preventing Zika virus from spreading is controlling the mosquito population. It is critical that after every rainfall, people Tip ‘n Toss. Dump out standing water in flowerpots, planters, children’s toys, old tires, and buckets around the home and in the yard. If it holds water and you don’t need it, get rid of it. For containers without lids or that are too big to Tip ‘n Toss (bird baths, garden pools), use larvicides such as mosquito dunks or mosquito torpedoes.
Source: Georgia Department of Public Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention