Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. Is this cause for alarm? Yes, this isn’t a regular mosquito virus. This one has alarming statistics that the public should be aware of:
- The Ministry of Health estimated (in Dec 2015) that 440,000–1,300,000 suspected cases of Zika virus disease had occurred in Brazil in 2015.
- There were more than 3,500 cases of microcephaly reported in the South American country, and 46 babies have died.
- As of January 20, 2016, locally-transmitted cases were reported to the Pan American Health Organization from Puerto Rico and 19 other countries or territories in the Americas.
- No official tally of U.S. cases is available. Weird huh. Visit the CDC page for updates here. Several state health agencies have confirmed cases in Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey and Texas, New York according to The Washington Post. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a yellow travel alert late Friday advising pregnant women to postpone travel to Mexico, Puerto Rico and more than a dozen other countries in South America, Central America and the Caribbean where the mosquito-borne Zika virus is circulating. The agency warned all travelers to avoid mosquito bites.
- See CDC Guidance for Pregnant Woman at: (Link)
- In Colombia, which has the second highest Zika infection rate after Brazil, the government is advising women to delay becoming pregnant for six to eight months to avoid the risk.
- Health officials in Brazil believe this virus is causing babies to be born with abnormally small heads. Note: All of the U.S. cases thus far have involved people who traveled to Latin America.
While there is no known vaccine to prevent Zika virus infection, there are things that you can do:
- Avoid mosquito bites by using air conditioning or window and door screens when indoors.
- Wear long sleeves and pants, using permethrin-treated clothing and gear, and using insect repellents when outdoors. Most Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)–registered repellents, including N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide (DEET), can be used on children aged >2 months.
- Try Natural Insect Repellents when possible.
- Until more is known, and out of an abundance of caution, pregnant women should consider postponing travel to any area where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.
The author, T. Bohler, runs an online company that makes and sells 100% natural salt body scrubs that exfoliate, soften, and moisturize skin without chemicals. Flavors include Eucalyptus, Lemonlicious, Coconut, Tea Tree Lime, Peppermint, Lavender, Jasmine, Purple Bliss, and the company signature flavor, Tropical Yummy.