NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH/WOOD) – Doctors and other health officials are standing behind the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation that pregnant women avoid countries with Zika virus outbreaks.
Some airlines have already begun offering refunds to those who planned flights to areas now battling the virus.
According to the CDC, the Zika virus is actively spreading in two dozen countries, including the U.S. Virgin Islands. Additionally, at least four confirmed cases of Zika virus have been reported in the United States – three in New York and one in Boston.
Dr. Zane Saul, chief of infectious diseases at Bridgeport Hospital sat down with 24 Hour News 8’s sister station, WTNH. Here are eight things he thinks you should know about the Zika virus.
Is there protection?
While there is no guaranteed prevention, Dr. Saul said there are mosquito repellents approved by the Environmental Protection Agency that are specifically for pregnant women. He also recommends wearing head-to-toe clothing, staying in air-conditioned areas, and avoiding the outdoors at dawn and dusk. Women who are pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant who need to travel to an infected country are encouraged to consult their doctor.
What are symptoms of the Zika virus?
According to Dr. Saul, one in five people infected with Zika virus will come down with mild symptoms which can last up to a week. The symptoms may include fever, rash, muscle aches, and conjunctivitis (red eye).
Is there a vaccine for Zika virus?
No. However, a developer told Reuters a vaccine could be ready for emergency use before the end of the year.
How do I treat Zika virus?
The CDC advises those infected with the Zika virus get plenty of rest, drink lots of water, avoid aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs until dengue can be ruled out, see a doctor and avoid mosquitos to prevent spreading the virus.
Can the Zika Virus be transmitted from human to human?
No. you can only be sickened by Zika virus if you are bitten by an infected mosquito.
Who is at highest risk for contracting the Zika virus?
Dr. Saul said pregnant women are at highest risk. The virus has been linked to the increasing number of babies born with microcephaly, which is an unusually smaller head caused by improper brain development.
What about other potential health risks?
The Zika virus has also been linked to Guillain-Barre syndrome, which can cause temporary paralysis.
What is the possibility of an outbreak in the U.S.?
Dr. Saul, like most health experts, said the risk of a Zika outbreak in the U.S. is low because of the climate. In the U.S., controlling the mosquito population is easier and air conditioning is more readily available. So far, all reported Zika virus cases in the U.S. have involved people who traveled to infected countries.