The Zika virus has been in the news lately, spreading concern and confusion on transmission. A student recently asked me if this virus is spread through sexual contact or if they are at risk of being infected. Here’s what you need to know about the Zika virus:
The Zika virus is a virus that is typically transmitted by mosquitoes. Research has also shown that can also be transmitted sexually. It is also possible for an infected mother who is pregnant to pass it on to her baby, which could lead to serious complications.
Only about 1 in 5 people who are infected with the virus will actually become sick. But for those who do, they may develop joint pain, rash, fever, muscle aches, red eyes, and headaches. It is very rare that people become severely sick or die from the Zika virus.
Currently, there are travel warnings for areas throughout Latin America and other parts of the world. There are zero reported cases that have originated in the United States at this point, although people who have travelled to other areas may have returned to the U.S. infected. There are no vaccines or specific medications to treat Zika infections. If someone were to become infected, it is recommend that they get lots of rest, stay hydrated, take over the counter medications for fever and pain, and discuss their symptoms with their doctor.
To prevent becoming infected, a person can avoid travelling to high risk areas (especially if pregnant). If travelling, it is recommended to take precautions against mosquito bites, such as using a repellant, covering exposed skin, staying indoors, and using mosquito netting whenever possible, especially if spending time outdoors. It is also important to use condoms to prevent the spread of the Zika virus if travelling to high risk areas or having sex with someone who has travelled to these areas.
To learn more about the Zika virus, you can visit the CDC’s website by clicking here!