Zike Virus: What You Need to Know

February 02nd, 2016

mosquitoFew people in the United States had even heard of Zika just a few short months ago, but it’s now exploded as a major health threat in South and Central America. It’s gradually moving into America, and three of the seven US cases have been in Florida.

As public health officials in America brace for a Zika onslaught as warmer weather dramatically increases the mosquito population, states are intensifying their prevention efforts. Here is what you need to know to protect yourself, especially if you live in mosquito-heavy state like Florida.

Symptoms of Zika

Zika most commonly appears with fever-like symptoms coupled with conjunctivitis, rash, and joint pain. It’s typically a mild illness, so recovery is possible in as short as a few days. In fact, these symptoms rarely require medical attention.

The major problem making Zika such a health threat is that the virus can be passed from a mother to her fetus during pregnancy. Though studies are still in their infancy, it is believed that Zika passed to a fetus causes microcephaly, a birth defect in which a baby is born with an abnormally small head that prevents the brain from developing normally.

Diagnosis and Treatment                  

The presence of Zika can be easily confirmed with a blood test, and standard treatment is mild. Just drink enough water, rest, and use common pain and fever medicines for comfort. There is currently no vaccine readily available, nor does any specific Zika medication exist.

Pregnant women who suspect Zika should seek medical attention immediately given the still unknown threat of microcephaly. Since it’s now believed that Zika can be sexually transmitted, it’s best to abstain until receiving a clean bill of health from the doctor.

How to Prevent Zika

In Florida, especially Hillsborough County in Tampa Bay, workers are receiving overtime payment to continue preventative spraying and mosquito monitoring. They are also misting in the areas of people who reported a Zika infection.

It’s vital that people understand the largest source of breeding for Zika mosquitos: standing water. Pest control experts are focusing on residential homes to eliminate standing water. It’s also important to stay covered, wear insect repellant, and use mosquito nets for children in strollers.