Looking back on 2016, the Zika Virus was certainly a hot, yet troublesome, topic. Unfortunately, Zika is still a concern and since there are so many questions surrounding the virus, eni’s BalanceCare Guides wanted to provide our members with a few important FAQs.
What is the Zika virus?
Zika is a mosquito borne illness. Its name is derived from the Zika Forest of Uganda where the virus was first isolated in 1947.
How is it spread?
- Mosquito bites
- From a pregnant woman to her fetus
- Blood transfusions
- If the virus continues to spread, additional methods may be added to this list
What are the symptoms?
Many people who contract the Zika Virus won’t have any symptoms. However, the most common symptoms include:
- Joint pain
- Conjunctivitis (red eyes)
- Muscle pain
Symptoms can last for several days up to a week. Once a person is infected with Zika, they are likely to be protected from future infections.
Why is it dangerous?
If you contract the Zika Virus while pregnant, it can cause birth defects such as microcephaly, defects of the eye, hearing and impaired growth.
How can you prevent Zika?
Although there is no vaccine to prevent Zika, there are several things you can do to protect yourself from getting bitten by any type of mosquito:
- Wear long sleeved shirts, long pants, hats, and socks.
- Treat clothing and gear with permethrin or buy pre-treated items. Permethrin is a medication and chemical used as an insecticide. Permethrin is a cream or spray which can be purchased over the counter at your local drug or department store.
- Use insect repellent with one of the following ingredients:
- Oil of lemon eucalyptus
These are safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women when used as directed.
*DO NOT use insect repellents on babies younger than 2 months old*
*DO NOT use oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol on children younger than 3 years old*
While at home:
- Stay in air conditioned places.
- Use screens in windows and doors to keep mosquitoes outside.
- Use mosquito netting to cover babies under 2 months old in carriers, strollers, and cribs.
- Sleep under a mosquito bed net if sleeping outdoors.
- Prevent sexual transmission by using condoms or abstaining from sex.
- Avoid places where mosquitoes are breeding, such as swamps.
- Get rid of water containers to eliminate mosquitoes’ breeding sites.
How Zika is diagnosed
- Diagnosis is based on person’s recent travel history, symptoms, and test results
- Blood or urine test
- Tests may be used to rule out other infections
If you have Zika
- Get plenty of rest
- Drink lots of fluids to prevent dehydration
- Take fever and pain reducer
- DO NOT take aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- If you’re taking medicine for another condition, talk to your healthcare provider before taking additional medication
Before you travel, check the CDC travel advisory list which is frequently updated. If pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, check with your healthcare provider and follow their advice.
Since Zika infections in the United States are relatively new, the implications for the medical insurance community is still a bit of an unknown. If our members do have any questions, please call BalanceCare and we can get answers for you.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention