What you need to know about Zika

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – You might think storms rolling in would be the only major concern during Florida’s Hurricane Season, but with warmer weather and rain comes another threat – mosquitos.

Here at MacDill, pest control officials make every effort to ensure you and your family is safe from these dive bombing bloodsuckers. Here’s what you need to know about Zika and preventative measures.

What is Zika? Zika is a type of infectious virus primarily transmitted by infected Aedes mosquitoes. It has been known as an international public health concern due to its significant effects on the pregnant population and how it is transmitted. The Zika virus is known to cause microcephaly, a condition in which a baby’s head is significantly smaller than expected, along with significant development impairment.

What are the signs and symptoms? The signs and symptoms of this virus are fever, rash, headache, joint pain, conjunctivitis (red eyes) and muscle pain. The incubation period for Zika is not clear, but it is likely to be few days and the symptoms usually last from two to seven days.

How is Zika transmitted? The Zika virus is transmitted when an infected mosquito bites a non-infected person. Similar to a sexually transmitted infection, the virus can be passed by having intercourse with a Zika-infected individual. Anyone who is living in or traveling to an area where the virus is found is at risk for infection.

Where is Zika most prevalent? People most likely contract Zika in areas where Aedes mosquitos are prevalent such as South America, Central America and the Caribbean. In 2016, there were 243 local cases of Zika transmission reported in Miami-Dade County, Florida. The majority of the cases in the U.S. have been due to people that travel to countries with high prevalence of the virus.

Is Zika curable? Currently, there is no specific treatment for this virus. If you contract the virus, getting plenty of rest, drinking fluids, and taking medicine to reduce symptoms are your best options.

What can I do to prevent myself from getting Zika? Preventing mosquito bites is the best way to prevent Zika. Public Health recommends using an Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellent, wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants when outdoors, eliminating possible mosquitoes breeding sites (buckets, tires, flower pots, anything with standing water) and when traveling, staying in hotels with screened doors and windows.

If you or your spouse are planning on getting pregnant or are currently pregnant, consider postponing travel to any area where Zika is active and immediately getting tested if you are experiencing any Zika symptoms. Continue to practice safe sex such as using condoms, having monogamous relationships or abstinence for at least six months after your initial symptoms started. This is important to prevent Zika transmission through sexual contact.

If you plan on travelling overseas or going on a cruise, please contact the 6th Medical Group Public Health office at 813-827-9601 to determine if your destination is at risk for Zika or other regional illnesses. You can also check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website for more info at www.cdc.gov/zika.