Councilman Eric Ulrich and Jamaica Hospital Medical Center wants everyone to know the basics and learn how to protect themselves and their loved ones from the growing threat of the Zika virus.
The councilman consulted with Dr. Farshad Bagheri; Director of Infectious Disease at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center to get important information you need to know. “I thank Dr. Farshad Bagheri and the entire team at Jamaica Hospital for putting together this timely and important information on the Zika virus,” said Councilman Eric Ulrich. “I look forward to continuing our partnership so together we can help Queens residents stay healthy and safe.”
Here are the facts:
What is Zika and how is it transmitted?
Zika is a mosquito-borne virus. It is transmitted most commonly by the bite of the infected Aedes species mosquito. Transmission also occurs through sexual intercourse from an infected man to either female or male partners. The virus can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating the possibility of transmission through blood transfusions as well as female to male transmission through intercourse. To date, there are no reports of infants getting Zika virus through breastfeeding.
What are the symptoms?
Many people infected with the Zika virus will have no symptoms or mild symptoms that can last anywhere from a few days to a week. Most common symptoms include; conjunctivitis (pink eye), fever, rash and joint pain. Although symptoms are mild for most, a pregnant woman faces the greatest risk because Zika virus is known to cause microcephaly (a birth defect that causes a baby’s head to develop smaller than normal) as well as other brain defects in developing babies. It is also believed that the virus contributes to miscarriages. Zika virus has also been linked to a disorder of the nervous system known as Guillain-Barre syndrome. This disorder is more common in adult men than others. It causes the body‘s immune system to attack parts of the peripheral nervous system.
How long does the virus remain in the body if one is infected?
On average the virus remains in the body for about a week but there have been instances where it has lasted longer. The virus is present in semen longer than in blood.
Who is at risk?
Those who recently traveled to countries that have reported outbreaks, those who have had sexual intercourse with an infected man, pregnant women and unborn babies exposed to the virus.
How can you protect yourself and loved ones?
Currently, there is no vaccine for the Zika virus; however, there are measures you can take to ensure safety and lessen the chances of infection. Here are a few:
- You can help prevent Zika infection by using EPA- registered insect repellents. The CDC suggests using repellents that have DEET, oil of lemon eucalyptus, picaridin, or IR 3535.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants, in mosquito-infested areas.
- Pregnant women should abstain from sex or use condoms throughout their pregnancy when having intercourse with male-partners who may have been exposed.
- Safeguard your home by throwing away, or, once a week turning over items outside or inside that collect water. Examples are tires, flower pots and trash containers.
- Use indoor mosquito sprays in areas where the insects are commonly found, such as dark and humid places.
- Install screens in doors and windows.
- The best safety measure for pregnant women or women trying to become pregnant is to “postpone travel to countries declared high risk. If travel is unavoidable, she must consult with her doctor before embarking on that trip,” advises Dr. Bagheri. “Following the travel advice of agencies such as WHO (World Health Organization) and the CDC is also helpful.”
If you believe you are at risk for contracting the Zika virus and are experiencing symptoms, make an appointment to see your doctor immediately. To learn more information about Zika virus, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/zika/
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.