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COUNTY OF MONTEREY

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Zika Virus

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Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.

Travel Advisory

Due to recent reports in Brazil of increased incidence of microencephaly among babies born to women infected with Zika virus during pregnancy, pregnant women who have plans to travel to the American Tropics should consult with their medical providers and consider postponing travel.  A list of affected countries can be found on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.  In addition, there have been cases of locally acquired Zika virus in the Mexican states of Chiapas, Guerrero, Jalisco, Michoacan, Nayarit, Nuevo León, Oaxaca, Sinaloa, Tobasco, Veracruz, and Yucatan.  Pregnant women who must travel to these areas should use insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of eucalyptus, or para-menthanie-diol.  Other precautions such as wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants and using mosquito bed nets are also recommended.

Signs and Symptoms

Most people infected with Zika virus do not have any symptoms at all.  Among those who do, the most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache. The illness is us ually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week.  Severe disease causing hospitalization or death is rare.

Transmission (How it Spreads)

Zika virus is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. These are the same mosquitoes that spread dengue and chikungunya viruses.  Aedes mosquitos are aggressive daytime biters, prefer to bite people, and live indoors and outdoors near people.  Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on a person already infected with the virus. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to other people through bites.

Rarely, Zika virus can be transmitted from a mother to her baby.  A mother already infected with Zika virus near the time of delivery can pass on the virus to her newborn around the time of birth, but this is rare.  This mode of transmission is being investigated.  To date, there are no reports of infants getting Zika virus through breastfeeding.  Because of the benefits of breastfeeding, mothers are encouraged to breastfeed even in areas where Zika virus is found.

Spread of the virus through blood transfusion and sexual contact have been reported and is being investigated.  At this time, Health Officials recommend that if you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant and have a male partner who lives in or has traveled to an area with Zika virus, abstain from having sexual contact with your partner or use a condom correctly every time you have sex for at least eight weeks after your partner returns from a Zika affected area.  If you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant and your partner traveled to a Zika affected area and he has symptoms of Zika virus, abstain from having sexual contact or use a condom every time you have sex for at least 6 months.

Testing and Treatment

Zika virus is diagnosed after reviewing symptoms and travel history.  A blood test is available to help diagnosis Zika virus infection. 

There are no medications that treat Zika virus directly.  People who are infected and have symptoms should:

  • Get plenty of rest
  • Drink fluids to prevent dehydration
  • Take medicines, such as acetaminophen or paracetamol, to relieve fever and pain
  • Do not take aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen and naproxen. Aspirin and NSAIDs should be avoided until dengue can be ruled out to reduce the risk of hemorrhage (bleeding). If you are taking medicine for another medical condition, talk to your healthcare provider before taking additional medication.

If you have Zika, avoid mosquito bites for the first week of your illness.  During the first week of infection, Zika virus can be found in the blood and passed from an infected person to another mosquito through mosquito bites.  An infected mosquito can then spread the virus to other people.

Prevention

No vaccine or medications are available to prevent or treat Zika infections.  Prevent Zika by avoiding mosquito bites when traveling to countries where Zika virus is present:

  • Use insect repellents. When used as directed, insect repellents are safe and effective for everyone, including pregnant and nursing women.  Most insect repellents can be used on children.  Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus in children under the age of three years.  Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide long lasting protection.
  • If you use both sunscreen and insect repellent, apply the sunscreen first and then the repellent. Do not spray insect repellent on the skin under your clothing.
  • Treat clothing with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated clothing.
  • Always follow the label instructions when using insect repellent or sunscreen.
  • When weather permits, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Use air conditioning or window/door screens to keep mosquitoes outside. If you are not able to protect yourself from mosquitoes inside your home or hotel, sleep under a mosquito bed net.

In addition, Zika virus can be transmitted through sexual activity. To prevent sexual transmission:

    • Couples in which a woman is pregnant: Couples should abstain from sex (oral, anal, and vaginal) or use barrier methods (male and female condoms) correctly and consistently during each sexual encounter (oral, anal, and vaginal) for the duration of pregnancy.
    • Couples in which a woman is trying to conceive:
      • Preconception counseling is highly recommended and should include risk of Zika virus exposure, potential outcomes associated with Zika virus infection during pregnancy, and their reproductive life plan.
      • Couples in which a partner has confirmed Zika virus infection or symptoms of Zika virus disease should delay conception for at least 6 months after symptom onset if the symptomatic person is male or at least 8 weeks after symptom onset if the symptomatic person is female.  Abstinence from sex (oral, anal, and vaginal) or use of barrier methods (male and female condoms) correctly and consistently during each sexual encounter (oral, anal, and vaginal) is recommended during this timeframe.
      • Couples in which a partner has traveled to a Zika affected area but neither partner has symptoms should delay conception for at least 8 weeks after leaving the Zika-affected area.  Abstinence from sex (oral, anal, and vaginal) or use of barrier methods (male and female condoms) correctly and consistently during each sexual encounter (oral, anal, and vaginal) is recommended during this timeframe.
    • Couples who are not pregnant and are not planning to become pregnant:
      • Couples in which a partner has confirmed Zika virus infection or symptoms of Zika virus disease should abstain from sex (oral, anal, and vaginal) or use barrier methods (male and female condoms) correctly and consistently during each sexual encounter (oral, anal, and vaginal) for at least 6 months after symptom onset if the symptomatic person is male or at least 8 weeks after symptom onset if the symptomatic person is female.
      • Couples in which a partner has traveled to a Zika affected area but neither partner has symptoms should abstain from sex (oral, anal, and vaginal) or use barrier methods (male and female condoms) correctly and consistently during each sexual encounter (oral, anal, and vaginal) for at least 8 weeks after leaving the Zika-affected area.
      • Couples in which one or both partners reside in a Zika-affected area should consider abstaining from sex (oral, anal, and vaginal) or using barrier methods (male and female condoms) correctly and consistently during each sexual encounter (oral, anal, and vaginal) as long as Zika virus transmission occurs in the area.

For More Information

California Department of Public Health 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

 

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