Health & Safety

March 18, 2016

Zika virus update

Staff Sgt. Chankrisna J. Chim
412th Aerospace Medicine Squadron

Recently, there has been an influx of Zika Virus cases originating from North, South and Central America. So, what is Zika Virus and why is it the hot topic on the news?

This virus, like other arboviruses (insect-carrying viruses), is transmitted from the bite of an infected mosquito (primarily Aedes aegypti for Zika).

People who have been bitten by a Zika-infected mosquito may develop flu-like symptoms, such as fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis (red eyes), muscle aches and/or headaches, within a few days to a week. Everyone is susceptible to the Zika virus and other mosquito-transmitting diseases, especially high risk populations (i.e. elderly, children, pregnant women, and immunocompromised individuals). 

Why is this important to know? Presently, there is no vaccine or medication available to prevent or treat Zika infections, but presented symptoms are treatable. It is important to know that if you develop any of these signs and symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with your primary care facility to be evaluated and/or treated. 

As of March 1, the Zika virus has been found in 36 countries and territories.

Travel by pregnant service members, dependents and DOD civilian employees to Zika-affected regions is strongly discouraged until completion of their pregnancy.

Additionally, recent reports suggest that this virus can be more commonly transmitted through sexual contact with an infected person. Lastly, men who reside or traveled to an area of ongoing Zika Virus transmission, who have a pregnant partner, should abstain from sexual activity or consistently and correctly use condoms during sex with their partner throughout the duration of the pregnancy.

Here are some important guidelines to follow to prevent contracting Zika or any other insect-carrying diseases:

* Mosquitoes are active during the hours of dusk and dawn
* Wear long pants and long sleeved shirts to prevent being bitten
* Use mosquito repellent with 20-25 percent DEET
* Check for areas where there is standing water (i.e. empty tires, puddles, cans) and eliminate those areas by filling it up with dirt and/or empty the water
* Ensure screens on your doors and windows do not contain holes where mosquitoes can get through

If you notice an increase of mosquito activity, plan on traveling to another country where diseases are prevalent, or would like up-to-date information on diseases contact Public Health at 661-277-2244 or 661-277-2270.

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