Health Department talks Zika virus risk

UPDATE: There is now a U.S. case of Zika contraction in Texas. See HERE for info.

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The La Paz County Health Department says that, at this time, there have been no identified cases of the Zika virus being transmitted in the United States. Zika spreads by the bite of an infected mosquito, causing fever, rash, joint pain and red/swollen eyes. It is relatively mild.

The primary risks at the current time are to pregnant women who may be traveling in Central America, South America, the Caribbean or Mexico. Below is the press release with information from the Health Department’s Kimberley Poorbaugh.

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Mosquitos are once again in the news with a Zika virus outbreak. Zika is a virus spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. This mosquito, the Aedes, is the same mosquito that can spread dengue and chikungunya.

Zika can cause fever, rash, joint pain, and red/swollen eyes. It is a relatively mild illness that usually doesn’t require hospitalization and lasts only a few days to a week. Symptoms typically start 2-7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

There are significant risks associated with a Zika virus infection during pregnancy. An increased number of microcephaly, or smaller than expected head size, and fetal losses have been identified in babies born to mother who were infected with Zika while pregnant. Babies with microcephaly often have smaller brains that might not have developed properly.

At this time, there is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika.

An outbreak of the Zika virus was first identified in Brazil in May 2015. Since then, Zika has been circulating in several countries and territories throughout the Americas, including Central America, South America, the Caribbean, and Mexico. While Zika has been identified in people from the U.S. who traveled to areas where the virus was circulating, there has been NO documented transmission of the Zika virus within the continental United States. There have also been NO identified Zika cases in the state of Arizona or La Paz County.

The best way to prevent Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases, both in Arizona and when traveling outside the U.S., is to avoid mosquito bites by wearing long sleeves and pants, using screens in windows, and applying an effective insect repellant (such as DEET). It is also recommended that pregnant women consider postponing travel to areas where Zika is present. Pregnant women with a history of travel to an area with Zika transmission and who have symptoms compatible with Zika or ultrasound findings of fetal microcephaly should consult their primary care physician and be tested for the Zika virus.

For more information on Zika, please visit the CDC’s website at cdc.gov/zika. If you have any questions about Zika, please do not hesitate to contact your doctor or La Paz County Health Department at (928) 669-1100 or lpchd.com.

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