There has been a lot of news recently about outbreaks of Zika virus infections particularly in Brazil. The virus, which has been associated with fetal abnormalities in pregnant women, is causing a real scare in Central and South America. The government of El Salvador took the unprecedented step of calling for women to refrain from getting pregnant for two years.
The virus is thought to be at risk for spreading to the U.S especially in areas where the Aedes mosquito exists. The virus is mosquito borne and is transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. The Aedes mosquito bites during the daytime and breeds in standing water.
What should you look for?
Unfortunately the symptoms of Zika virus infection are very vague and non-specific. These symptoms include low-grade fever, rash, joint pain, and pink eye. Signs and symptoms occur within 2 - 12 days and the symptoms are usually mild. Many patients have no symptoms at all.
For now, individuals should be concerned if they have the clinical symptoms and recently traveled to an area where the Aedes mosquito is present and cases have been reported. This is especially true for pregnant women who should get lab testing and an ultrasound to evaluate for Zika virus related birth defects.
There is no treatment for the infection and no vaccine. The key is prevention which includes wearing personal protective equipment and instituting measures to eliminate and control mosquito breeding sites.
Recently the CDC advised that pregnant women consider forgoing travel to any area where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.
Of course, each individual case is different and the advice in this post should not substitute for getting a consultation with your doctor.
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