Zika Virus Fast Facts – The Zika Virus Makes Landfall in South Florida
Currently there are 15 confirmed cases of locally transmitted Zika Virus in a south Florida area that many are now referring to as the “Zika Zone.” The Zika virus, which hit epidemic levels in both the Caribbean and Latin America has officially made landfall in the U.S. and is causing worry and consternation for residents of Miami, FL – and larger concern for the CDC and other healthcare officials who remained concerned about the spread of the virus, and its potential implications. In massive public outreach campaigns, officials are looking to inform people about the virus – and its potential health ramifications – especially for pregnant women.
Here Are Some Zika Virus Fast Facts You Need to Know
The primary means of transmission for the Zika Virus is via the bite of a specific type of mosquito called the Aedus Agypti mosquito. However, despite common misconceptions, Zika can also be transmitted sexually or through body fluids such as blood transfusions.
4 out of 5 people who carry the Zika virus have no symptoms. Those who do display symptoms may have one or more of the following:
- Mild rash
- Joint pain
Because the virus is asymptomatic there is concern that it could be spread rapidly from one unsuspecting person to the next.
According to Dr. Ricardo Lopez, who spoke about the topic recently in a CBS News interview “It’s very important to understand that those who are experiencing symptoms aren’t necessarily a good estimate of how many people have been infected.”
The Zika virus can be detected via a simple blood test, however results of the test may take 7-10 days.
The majority of the US cases of Zika have been reported in a one square mile area of Miami Dade County in south Florida. The CDC has issued a warning advising pregnant women to avoid this area.
Those women who are pregnant and live in, work in, or have traveled to this area – or who may have been exposed to Zika while traveling outside of the country should be tested for the Zika virus immediately. The CDC Website provides an interactive list of countries where the virus is actively spreading which you can see here.
There is currently no vaccination to prevent the Zika Virus, nor is there a cure for the virus once someone has been exposed.
The Zika virus is especially dangerous for expectant mothers and their unborn children as it causes an incurable condition called microcephaly in the fetus. Babies born with microcephaly have a significantly smaller than normal heads which are due to improper brain development. Those who suffer from microcephaly may experience varying degrees of cognitive impairment throughout life including intellectual and developmental disabilities, speech impairment, seizures, and lack of muscle control.
If you, or someone you know may have been exposed to the Zika virus, it is important that they get tested. In the meantime, it is important to take the following proactive measures against exposure to the virus from mosquito bites by doing the following:
- Use insect repellent containing DEET as directed
- Limit exposure of skin to mosquito bites by wearing protective clothing
- Ensure that you are sleeping in a protected area by keeping windows closed or ensuring that there are window screens
- Decrease exposure and/or travel to areas where there is known spread of the virus if possible
- Utilize permetrin-treated clothing and shoes to deter mosquito bites
Are you living in Florida and have concerns about the Zika Virus? We would love to hear your thoughts on how you are staying protected. Please share with us in the comments below or on social.