What is the Zika Virus?
Zika is a disease caused by Zika virus that is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) maintains an updated page about the current state of Zika worldwide.
What are the symptoms of Zika?
About 1 in 5 people infected with Zika will get sick. For people who get sick, the illness is usually mild. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Symptoms typically begin 2 to 7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. (Source: CDC)
How is Zika transmitted?
Zika is primarily transmitted through the bite of infected Aedes mosquitoes, the same mosquitoes that spread Chikungunya and dengue. These mosquitoes are aggressive daytime biters and they can also bite at night. Mosquitoes become infected when they bite a person already infected with the virus. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to other people through bites. It can also be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth. The CDC is studying how some mothers can pass the virus to their babies. (Source: CDC)
Is Zika still a concern in Florida?
According to the CDC, "There is no current local transmission of Zika virus in the continental United States, including Florida and Texas, which reported local transmission of Zika virus by mosquitoes in 2016-17.
Health officials believe all of the past cases were from people who contracted the disease while traveling to affected countries. The most affected countries are: South and Central America, Africa, Southeast Asia and parts of the Caribbean. If you intend to travel outside of the United States, check the CDC website for a list of countries affected by the Zika virus. Pregnant women or women trying to become pregnant should be especially vigilant in avoiding mosquito bites. The Zika virus is linked to brain deformities in babies. There is concern that the Zika virus could be transmitted sexually and further research is being conducted.
Zika virus testing is only available through the appropriate County Health Departments. If you have traveled to affected countries and exhibit any of the above symptoms contact your health provider for further screening measures.