5 Things You Really Need to Know About Zika

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By Staff Reports

(Victor Valley)– Outbreaks of Zika have been reported in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, and most recently in the Americas. Because the mosquitoes that spread Zika virus are found throughout the world, it is likely that outbreaks will continue to spread. Here are 5 things that you really need to know about the Zika virus.

Zika is primarily spread through the bite of an infected mosquito.

Many areas in the United States have the type of mosquitoes that can become infected with and spread Zika virus. To date, there have been no reports of Zika being spread by mosquitoes in the continental United States. However, cases have been reported in travelers to the United States. With the recent outbreaks in the Americas, the number of Zika cases among travelers visiting or returning to the United States will likely increase.

These mosquitoes are aggressive daytime biters. They also bite at night. The mosquitoes that spread Zika virus also spread dengue and chikungunya viruses.

The best way to prevent Zika is to prevent mosquito bites.

Protect yourself from mosquitoes by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.  Sleep under a mosquito bed net if air conditioned or screened rooms are not available or if sleeping outdoors.

Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents. When used as directed, these insect repellents are proven safe and effective even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old. Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs. Cover crib, stroller, and baby carrier with mosquito netting.

Read more about how to protect yourself from mosquito bites.

Infection with Zika during pregnancy may be linked to birth defects in babies.

Zika virus can pass from a mother to the fetus during pregnancy, but we are unsure of how often this occurs. There have been reports of a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly (a birth defect in which the size of a baby’s head is smaller than expected for age and sex) in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant. Additional studies are needed to determine the degree to which Zika is linked with microcephaly. More lab testing and other studies are planned to learn more about the risks of Zika virus infection during pregnancy.

We expect that the course of Zika virus disease in pregnant women is similar to that in the general population. No evidence exists to suggest that pregnant women are more susceptible or experience more severe disease during pregnancy.

Because of the possible association between Zika infection and microcephaly, pregnant women should strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites.

Pregnant women should delay travel to areas where Zika is spreading.

Until more is known, CDC recommends that pregnant women consider postponing travel to any area where Zika virus is spreading. If you must travel to one of these areas, talk to your healthcare provider first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during the trip.

If you have a male partner who lives in or has traveled to an area where Zika is spreading, either do not have sex or use condoms the right way every time during your pregnancy.

For women trying to get pregnant, before you or your male partner travel, talk to your healthcare provider about your plans to become pregnant and the risk of Zika virus infection. You and your male partner should strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during the trip.

Returning travelers infected with Zika can spread the virus through mosquito bites.

During the first week of infection, Zika virus can be found in the blood and passed from an infected person to a mosquito through mosquito bites. The infected mosquito must live long enough for the virus to multiply and for the mosquito to bite another person.

Protect your family, friends, neighbors, and community! If you have traveled to a country where Zika has been found, make sure you take the same measures to protect yourself from mosquito bites at home as you would while traveling. Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants , use insect repellant, and stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.

For more information on the Zika virus, and for the latest updates, visit www.cdc.gov/zika.

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