Zika Virus Update
There is a lot of information in currently the news regarding Zika. About 20 percent of people infected with Zika virus will have symptoms. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache. While illness is usually mild and severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon, there is increasing evidence of a link between Zika virus infection in pregnant women and subsequent birth defects (such as microcephaly and other poor pregnancy outcomes). Knowledge of the link between Zika and these outcomes is evolving.
Zika virus is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes are present in many tropical and subtropical environments and are aggressive daytime biters. The 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. The Aedes mosquitoes that are transmitting Zika virus in other areas of the world are not established in Iowa, so the risk to Iowans occurs when they travel to Zika-affected areas or have a sexual partner who travelled to a Zika-affected area and is infected with Zika.
Local transmission of Zika has been reported in many countries and territories including 26 countries in the Americas; and will likely change over time. Check the CDC's Zika Travel Information Page at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-travel-information for the most up-to-date list of countries and travel recommendations.
Mexico is one of the countries with a Level 2 Alert. The first local transmission of Zika virus was reported in Mexico in November 2015. Local transmission means that mosquitoes in Mexico have been infected with Zika virus, spreading it to people.
The CDC has the following recommendations regarding Zika:
- Zika virus can be passed from a mother to her fetus during pregnancy. Women who are pregnant (in any trimester) should consider postponing travel to any area where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.
- Pregnant women who have travel to an affected country should talk to a health care provider about their trip even if they do not feel sick.
- It is especially important that pregnant women see a doctor if they develop a fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes during their trip or within 2 weeks after traveling to a country where Zika has been reported.
- Travelers to a country with on-going Zika virus transmission should strictly follow measures to prevent mosquito bites while in an affected country.
- Because there is evidence that the Zika virus can be sexual transmitted by a man to his sex partners, both men and women should strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites and correctly use condoms when a man lives or travels to an area with active Zika virus transmission.
- Men who live in or have traveled to an area with active Zika virus transmission who have a pregnant partner should abstain from sexual activity or consistently and correctly use condoms every time they have vaginal, anal, and/or oral sex.
- See your healthcare provider if you visited an area with active Zika virus transmission and you develop Zika symptoms (as described above).