Stapleton Pediatrics Blog

The Zika Virus - What You Need to Know

By Noah Makovsky, MD
 
As we head into spring and summer, many of us are spending more time outdoors and maybe even planning a vacation or two! Although we are reminded of the typical summer safety issues, such as sunscreen and good hydration, this year it is hard to escape the news regarding the spread of the Zika virus.
 
Interestingly, the Zika virus is not new at all; it was actually discovered in 1947 and is named for the Zika forest in Uganda. The first human cases of Zika were reported in 1952, and it is likely that there have been numerous outbreaks since that time. Zika did not gain much recognition in the past because the symptoms of the disease are similar to those of many typical viral illnesses, such as fever, headache, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The symptoms usually last a few days to one week and typically resolve without specific treatment. Infected individuals do not usually need hospital care and only in very rare cases is Zika considered fatal. 
 
So, if the Zika virus has been around for so long and the symptoms are generally thought to be benign, why is the Zika virus all over the news? There are at least three reasons:

1. The population of the Americas has not previously been exposed to Zika and therefore lacks the immunity to this virus. This means our population is vulnerable to infection if exposed to Zika.

2. The Aedes mosquito -- the main vector for Zika transmission -- is present throughout the Western hemisphere, except Canada and Chile, which means Zika can be spread easily throughout our population.

3. There are significant reports that pregnant women who become infected with the Zika virus have a greater likelihood of giving birth to a baby with microcephaly. Microcephaly is a condition in which the baby’s head is much smaller than expected and is often associated with a smaller or underdeveloped brain. Microcephaly has been linked with health issues, such as developmental delay, seizures, hearing loss and visual problems.
 
Fortunately, most infectious disease experts agree that the cooler and drier climate of the United States makes it highly unlikely that Zika will spread here. However, due to the concerns mentioned above, and the likelihood that some Stapleton Pediatrics’ families will venture south of the border over the next few months, it is important to familiarize yourself with the Zika virus. Below are some prevention techniques to follow if you find yourself and your children in known Zika areas.
 
Steps to Prevent Mosquito Bites
1.    Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants.
2.    Stay in places with air conditioning and that have window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
3.    Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered insect repellants.
4.    Stay away from mosquito breeding sites, such as standing water.
 
One of our primary goals at Stapleton Peds is to help our families and kids enjoy healthy living! We recognize that we will always be faced with new and concerning health issues, whether it’s the latest flu, a challenging allergy season, or even a foreign new virus, such as Zika. Yet, the providers and staff at Stapleton Peds are here to help you navigate through all of these health challenges. It is our job to stay up to date with the latest health information, so you can enjoy your family time together. Never hesitate to call or visit our office as we work together to keep your kids happy and healthy!
 
For the latest information on the Zika virus, please visit the Centers for Disease Control website at: www.cdc.gov/zika

 
Posted: 3/17/2016 8:49:35 PM by | with 1 comments
Filed under: Flu, Medicine, Preventative, Virus


Comments
Megan
Thanks for the post, Dr. Noah! Wondering about risks when traveling. We are planning a potential trip to a remote area of Nicaragua but feeling slightly concerned about ours and our 20 month old son's exposure. Thanks in advance!
3/18/2016 10:14:07 AM

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