Health Clinic issues Zika virus update

zika-warning■ BY DR. JEFFREY HUMBARGER – Since my last post, I have had many phone calls and questions regarding Zika, especially from ladies with pregnant daughters who may be visiting Boca Grande.

As of February 10, the last reporting date, there have been 52 travel-related cases and no cases from insect vectors (mosquitos) in the U.S.

While it is theoretically possible to be bitten by an infected mosquito in Florida, in reality, no mosquitos have been found with the virus. All the cases in Florida, and in fact the entire U.S., save one, have been contracted in a country where the Zika virus is endemic. One woman was infected by her male sex partner, who had been infected in another country.

This week, the New England Journal of Medicine posted an on-line article detailing findings of an autopsy performed on an aborted fetus with microcephaly. Its mother had an acute Zika virus infection while pregnant and visiting Brazil. The fetus was found to have Zika viral particles in its brain and other tissue. This proves conclusively that the virus itself can be a cause of microcephaly.

The Aedes aegypti mosquitos that spread Zika and other serious illnesses, like Dengue fever, West Nile virus, yellow fever and Chikungunya feed and bite not just at dawn and dusk, but also during the day. The best prevention is mosquito control.  We as a community, not just the government, must deter mosquito breeding by avoiding having standing water on our properties. Buckets, flower pots or any other container that allows water to stand stagnant will increase our mosquito population.

Besides mosquito control, we need to protect ourselves from getting bitten. Wear long sleeves and long pants when out. Use DEET-containing insect repellant, and stay indoors in air conditioning or behind screens. If it isn’t possible to sleep in a closed environment, use a mosquito net.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an excellent information center for pregnant women and women of child-bearing age who may have questions regarding travel and risks of infection with Zika virus.  The CDC does not recommend avoiding travel anywhere in the US, even Florida and Texas at this time.

Please visit the CDC’s Zika information site, http://www.cdc.gov/zika/ and the Florida Department of Health site, http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/zika-virus/index.html?utm_source=flhealthIndex for more information about Zika. Virus.