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What Parents Need to Know About the Zika Virus

The news about the Zika virus has died down from the daily news, but it is still active, so parents should educate themselves about it, especially when traveling. If you have upcoming plans to visit other areas of the country, or go out of the country, make sure you plan ahead.

What is the Zika Virus?

The Zika virus is initially transmitted through the bite of an Aedes mosquito, but it can then be passed to other people through sexual contact, and pregnant women can pass the virus on to their baby. There has been a case of it being transmitted through non-sexual contact, but it is extremely rare.

Symptoms of Zika

Four out of five people who have the Zika virus don’t display any symptoms. Others experience fever, rash, joint pain, and redness in the eyes. Symptoms can start anywhere from 3 to 14 days after coming in contact with the virus. Because many don’t display symptoms, pregnant women should be tested after visiting areas where Zika is active.

How to Prevent Spread of the Zika Virus

If traveling in the affected areas, it is important to avoid any bites from mosquitoes. Use insect repellent at all times, and wear long sleeves and pants, both indoors and outside. The CDC recommends using Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellents with DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus (para-menthane-diol) or 2-undecanone. If you’re using sunscreen, apply that first and repellent second.

After leaving the area it is still important to be vigilant. Because many people do not know they have the virus, it can be spread with another mosquito bite, so continue using the insect repellent protocol. The CDC also recommends using condoms or abstaining from sex for 8 weeks for women or 6 months for men to avoid sexual transmission.

If diagnosed with the Zika virus, symptoms usually decrease within a week. There is no treatment, but patients usually find comfort from over-the-counter products such as acetaminophen. Rest and fluids are also encouraged.

Where is the Zika Virus?

At this time, the virus has been reported in South Florida (Miami-Dade), and South Texas (Brownsville) in the continental United States. Other areas of caution include Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, as well as some areas of South America, Central America, Africa, and Asia. The CDC has a website that is regularly updated with Zika warnings and it is best to check it before you travel. For more questions or concerns about the Zika virus, contact us.