The Zika virus has been widely discussed in every news outlet in recent months. The recent publicity begs the question: what do I need to know about this virus? Below we will answer common questions about the virus, how to prevent it, and how to get tested.
What is the Zika Virus?
Zika is a virus that causes illness in those effected. Many times, the symptoms are mild or non-existent in patients.
However, the virus can cause serious birth defects, such as: Microcephaly and brain defects, in pregnant women. Additionally, Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), a sickness in the nervous system causing cell and muscle damage, has become associated with Zika, but does not occur in all cases.
How is Zika spread?
The virus is most commonly spread through mosquito bites, specifically through the Aedes species of mosquito, according to the CDC. Zika can also be spread from an infected mother to her fetus. Blood transfusions have also been known to spread the disease. However, there have not been any confirmed cases of this in the United States.
How can I prevent the Zika virus?
To prevent exposure, avoid bites from mosquitos by using insect repellent diligently. The types of mosquitos known for causing Zika are typically out during the day.
The best defense against Zika is avoiding places where the disease has been discovered. The virus has been most common in South and Central America, and the Caribbean. However, there have been recent cases in Miami, Florida as well. Expectant mothers and their partners are strongly discouraged from travel to these areas.
Currently, there are no vaccines for Zika. However, at the end of June the FDA approved a clinical trial for a potential vaccine for the virus. This is a great major first step toward Zika prevention.
How do I get tested for Zika?
The diagnosis of Zika is based on a few different factors: travel history, blood and urine tests, and symptoms. Blood and urine tests are used to confirm infection of the virus. If you are concerned about your or your child’s exposure to the virus, speak to your PCG pediatrician.
Safety and knowledge are your best defense against this virus. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Pediatric Care Group.