It was recently reported that Zika has made its way into the United States. While we are not under as serious of a threat as the tropical regions where it thrives, you should still exercise caution. We have a few practical tips on how to prevent Zika.
What We Know So Far: The Basics
Zika spreads via mosquito bites and, in some cases, sexual contact. While most people experience symptoms similar to having the flu, this disease is especially harmful to pregnant women. Pregnant women who contract the virus have an increased risk of their child developing birth defects, namely microcephaly.
At this time, the majority of reported cases in the United States are people who have traveled outside the country to areas where Zika is present. However, last week, it was reported that several people in the Miami Beach area contracted non-travel related Zika.
Though Zika is not a new disease, scientists know very little about the long-term side effects of infection. At this time, there is no known vaccination for the disease, which means prevention is especially important.
How You Can Protect Yourself
If you’ve already our blog on preventing bug bites, you’ve got a pretty good idea on how to avoid these flying, biting disease spreaders. However, here are some tips to avoid mosquito bites:
- Use insect repellant as often as necessary. The CDC recommends using a product containing the insecticide DEET.
- At least once per week, remove standing puddles of water, as these are mosquito breeding habits. Theses places include flower pots, pet water containers, untreated pools/spa, bird baths, etc.
- Routinely “bomb” areas where people will be congregating with pesticides.
- Utilizes citronella candles, torches, and stick on patios and other places as necessary.
- Keep doors and windows shut, if possible.
- Wear long sleeves shirts and pants in lighter colors.
Zika is transmitted sexually, so it’s important to exercise precautions, particularly for women who are of child-bearing age. While the results still aren’t clear, scientists are still examining how long Zika can stay in a person’s body. However, the results aren’t 100% clear. If you or your partner live in or travel to an area where Zika is a known threat, the CDC recommends utilizing condoms or refraining from sexual activity for at least 8 weeks for women and 6 months for men. It seems that Zika can reside in sperm cells for a longer period of time.
Zika And Pregnancy
If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant soon, the CDC recommends that you take extensive precautions. These include being vigilant about mosquito repellents and avoiding traveling to areas where Zika thrives.
While we understand that this disease is deeply concerning, the staff at Medical Center Pharmacy is available to answer questions to the best of our ability. At this time, Zika is not a known threat in our area. However, in addition to other mosquito-borne and sexually transmitted diseases, we encourage you to exercise an abundance of caution to maintain your health.