8 Things you should know about Zika

  1. What is Zika?

Zika is a virus, but it is not a new virus. What is different about this outbreak is the speed at which it is spreading. It has rapidly spread throughout South and Central America and there are now documented cases in North America.

2. Why should I be concerned about Zika?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Zika is “spreading explosively.” It will soon be throughout North America and other countries. Of particular concern is the number of international travelers to the upcoming summer Olympics in Brazil, a known Zika affected area.

3. How is Zika spread?

Zika is spread through mosquito bites or from pregnant mothers to their unborn children. There has been one confirmed case in Dallas, Texas of spread through sexual contact.

4. How will I know if I have Zika?

Zika virus rash

Signs and symptoms of Zika present like the flu, including fever, but also may include a headache, rash, joint pain, muscle pain and red eyes.

5. How dangerous is Zika?

About one in five people exposed to Zika will become ill. Most people experience only mild illness and discomfort several days to a week. The need for hospitalization is rare. Death is possible, but extremely rare. Zika is of greatest concern to pregnant women as the disease may have a link to brain deformities in the child.

6. How can I prevent Zika?

At this time, there is no vaccine to prevent Zika. The best course of action is to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites in known Zika affected areas. Wear long pants and long sleeve shirts. Use non-toxic insect repellent and reapply often as necessary.

7. What should I do if I think I have Zika?

See your healthcare provider if you develop the signs and symptoms of Zika. Make sure to tell them if you have traveled to areas know to have been affected by Zika. Stay hydrated and get plenty of rest. Fever, headaches and muscle pain can be treated with over the counter acetaminophen, but aspirin should be avoided until dengue fever can be ruled out.

8. Where can I get more information about Zika?

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) page about Zika: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/index.html

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