Zika: what you need to know
Two weeks after a Woodford County woman became the seventh Kentuckian to be diagnosed with the Zika Virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was still reporting that Zika is not being spread by mosquitoes in the continental United States. The Sun learned of the local case through a July 5 news release from the Woodford County Health Department. The statement noted that the victim had recently returned from an Eastern Caribbean island, was, by then, asymptomatic, and there was “absolutely no danger to residents.” However, experts say it’s almost certain that eventually, people will contract the virus without leaving the U.S. On Monday, with data compiled July 13, the CDC reported that there were 1,306 confirmed cases of Zika in the United States and 2,906 in U.S. territories. Among pregnant women, as of July 7 (the most recent date cited on the CDC website), there were 346 cases in the U.S. and 343 in U.S. territories. According to the CDC, Zika is spread mostly by the bite of infected Aedes species mosquitoes, which are aggressive daytime biters but can bite at night. While Zika is not currently being spread by mosquitoes in the continental U.S., the Aedes and other mosquitoes that can carry Zika are found throughout the southern United States, from California to Florida. Here’s how Zika can be spread, according to the CDC: • Mosquito bites; • From an infected pregnant woman to her fetus; • From an infected man to sex partners through any sort of sex without a condom; • Blood transfusions (very likely but unconfirmed). The Woodford County Health Department offers these tips for avoiding being bitten: • Do not allow standing or contained water to collect for more than a week in bird baths, tires, buckets, tops of lawn mower bushings, gutters, tarps, pickup truck beds and other receptacles. • Wear light-colored long sleeve shirts and long pants while outside. • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved mosquito repellent when venturing outdoors. (The EPA label will appear on the product.) The CDC warns that insect repellent should not be used on babies younger than two-months-old. What Zika can do The CDC reports that many people infected with Zika will have no symptoms or mild symptoms that last several days to a week. Symptoms include fever, headaches, rashes, joint and muscle pain, and red eyes. Zika infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects. In a small number of cases, Zika can also trigger Guillain-Barré Syndrome, which the CDC terms “an uncommon sickness of the nervous system.” There is a bit of good news for Zika victims: According to the CDC, they’ll very likely be protected from future infections, and there’s no evidence that past Zika infections lead to an increased risk of birth defects in future pregnancies.