Have you heard it on the news? Last year it was Ebola, this year it's Zika. But what does it mean for us?
Zika virus is a mosquito-transmitted illness that is running rampant through South and Central America. The virus produces a flu-like illness in 1 out of 5 people infected and can cause rash, pink eye, and joint aches as well. 4 out of 5 people are unaware they have the illness.
The big risk comes not to healthy adults but to unborn fetuses. Pregnant women who develop the viral illness during pregnancy seem to have an extremely high risk of having a fetal loss or having their baby born with microcephaly (small head and therefore under-developed brain). This can lead to very serious long-term consequences of mental disabilities throughout life.
So, the CDC warns that any pregnant or soon-to-be pregnant women avoid travel to countries in warm climate zones like South & Central America. Puerto Rico has recently been added to this list as well.
For adults and children, the best prevention from illness is avoiding a mosquito bite when traveling to countries where Zika virus or other viruses spread by mosquitoes have been reported by using insect repellent, wearing long sleeves and pants, and staying in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens.
For more information....
Lauren Hedde, DO and Mark Turshen, MD are Family Physicians and Founders of Direct Doctors, Inc. a Direct Primary Care Practice.