The Spread of Zika Virus

MosquitoRecently, there has been a lot of information in the news about the spread of the Zika Virus. We would like to keep you informed of the risks and safety measures available.

The World Health Organization has announced its plan to convene an International Emergency Committee on Monday, February 1st, to discuss the spread of Zika virus, which has been linked to thousands of birth defects in Latin America. Zika virus is a mostquitoe-borne flavivirus transmitted primarily by Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes. This particular type of mosquito is present in South America and the United States, but not in Canada. The first case of Zika virus was reported in Brazil in May 2015 and has now spread within Brazil and to 22 other countries.

Symptoms are generally mild and characterized by acute onset of a fever, rash, joint pain and redness or soreness of eyes. Symptoms normally last several days to 1 week. Approximately 80% of people infected with Zika virus do not show signs of infection. Hospitalization in uncommon and fatalities are rare but specialists are advising that pregnant women need to consider postponing travel to affected areas.

There has been an observed increase in neurological disorders and neonatal malformations, and the virus infections have been confirmed in infants with microcephaly (infants born with abnormally small head).

It is recommended to use mosquito prevention strategies including wearing long-sleeved shirts and long plants, using U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents, using permethrin-treated clothing and gear, and staying and sleeping in screened-in or air-conditioned rooms.

Decisions concerning the Committee’s discussion will be made public on the World Health Organization website: http://www.who.int/en/

The CDC has posted interim guidelines for pregnant women during the outbreak: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm6502e1.htm

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