Guest blog by Katie White, Social Media Coordinator in the Office of Health Communications at the Arkansas Department of Health
Summer has ended, and fall has arrived!
While thoughts of sandy shores and blue water might give way to sweater weather and cappuccinos, there are five things we’d like everyone to remember about Zika no matter what time of year it is.
- Zika is linked to birth defects and developmental delays.
Infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly, a sign of incomplete brain development. If you or your partner has traveled to an affected area, wait to get pregnant—Zika can be transmitted sexually after infection, even with no symptoms present.
- Pregnant women should not travel to areas with Zika.
Even though summer has ended, your next business trip or even a fall honeymoon could still be on your calendar. Check www.cdc.gov/zika to see if your travel plans include destinations affected by ongoing transmission of Zika. If you are pregnant and travel is necessary, talk to your healthcare provider first and strictly follow steps to prevent infection. If your partner has traveled to an affected area, use protection for the duration of your pregnancy to prevent sexual transmission.
- Zika primarily spreads through the bite of an infected AEDES mosquito, but Zika can also be transmitted sexually.
Mosquitoes might not be very active in Arkansas in the fall and winter, but if traveling to an affected area with a warmer climate, remember to take measures to prevent mosquito bites, and use protection every time you have sex to prevent infection.
- The best way to prevent Zika is to prevent mosquito bites.
Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents with one of the following active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, or 2-undecanone. Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old. Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol on children younger than 3 years old.
- Returning travelers infected with Zika can spread the virus.
After returning from an area affected by Zika, take measures to prevent mosquito bites for at least 3 weeks to prevent the spread of Zika to local mosquitoes. Even if mosquitoes aren’t as active here, Zika can be transmitted sexually for up to six months; after returning from an affected area use protection every time you have sex.
When wintry temperatures arrive in Arkansas, and warmer weather starts calling your name, remember these tips to get away without getting Zika! Know before you go if your destination is affected by visiting www.cdc.gov/zika.