Making international headlines, the Zika virus is a new health concern public health professionals are learning more about each day. Dr. Abelardo Moncayo, director of the Tennessee Department of Health’s vector-borne disease program, joined us on a recent episode of Community Healthy Matters to discuss how you can best protect yourself against Zika. View his interview here.
If not pregnant, people sick with the Zika virus usually only experience mild symptoms and do not require treatment outside of rest, fluids, and common pain and fever medications. However, a Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause severe fetal development problems like microcephaly, a medical condition in which the brain does not form properly resulting in a smaller than normal head. These complications can lead to serious problems with a child’s cognitive abilities and neurological functions.
Zika virus symptoms begin three to 12 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito and include fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes). Unfortunately, there are currently no treatments or vaccines to protect against the Zika virus infection, which can be transmitted sexually.
The only protection is prevention. To avoid mosquito bites, wear light-colored clothes that cover as much of the body as possible, use insect repellent containing DEET and remove clear standing water that could be a potential mosquito breeding site from your property.
For general information about Zika virus and surveillance for mosquito-borne diseases in Tennessee, call your Regional or County Health Department or the Tennessee Department of Health at 615-741-7247. For the latest updates on the Zika Virus, visit CDC.gov/zika.