Guest BloggersHealth & Beauty

Zika Virus Prevention

aedes mosquito

Chances are you’ve heard about the Zika virus, but you may not know why it is a big deal, or how to protect yourself.

Guest blog by Katie White, Arkansas Department of Health

Zika is mainly spread by the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. Zika can also be transmitted sexually. The virus can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus and can cause serious birth defects, including microcephaly, which affects a baby’s brain development.

Many parts of Central and South America, the Caribbean, the Pacific Islands, and Africa, as well as some parts of Asia, have mosquitoes that are spreading the Zika virus. You can visit https://www.cdc.gov/zika/ to find out which areas have active Zika transmission.

If you are visiting an affected area, the best way to prevent Zika is to prevent mosquito bites by using 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. Also, use protection every time you have sex with a partner who has traveled to an affected area.

Zika Affected Area Map

It is recommended that pregnant women not travel to areas with Zika. If 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.

If you have been to an area affected by Zika, it is important to take measures to prevent mosquito bites for at least three weeks after you return home to prevent the spread of Zika to local mosquitoes. If a local mosquito becomes infected, it could spread Zika to someone else.

The most common symptoms are: fever, rash, joint pain, red eyes, muscle pain and headache. Symptoms of Zika are typically mild and roughly 80% of people infected with Zika will not have any symptoms. Even though symptoms are mild for most, Zika can cause life-altering brain damage for babies if a pregnant woman becomes infected, so prevention efforts are necessary. If you have questions before traveling, or believe you may have become infected while traveling, talk to your doctor. You can also visit the Arkansas Department of Health website at www.healthy.arkansas.gov for more information.

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