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Zika Virus

Internal Medicine at Washington Township Medical Foundation

Zika virus has been featured prominently in the news for an outbreak that largely came to a head in 2016. However, the virus was first identified in 1947 in Uganda. This condition is transmitted by mosquitoes—specifically the Aedes genus of mosquitoes, which are also responsible for transmitting dengue, yellow fever, and chikungunya. This species of mosquito bites both during the day and the night.

It is possible for the Zika virus to also be transmitted through sexual contact. Symptoms may include a mild fever, conjunctivitis, a skin rash, muscle pain, joint pain, headaches, and a general feeling of malaise. A pregnant woman can pass the Zika virus to her unborn child. This can lead to certain birth defects.

What You Should Know About the Zika Virus

The best form of addressing the Zika virus is preventing mosquito bites, as there is currently no approved medication or treatment. Pregnant women should be careful to avoid traveling to places where Zika is present. In addition, be aware that travelers returning from these places can pose a hazard, as mosquitoes can bite an infected person and then infect another individual with their blood.

Tips for avoiding mosquito bites include:

  • Use insect repellent that is registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is both safe and effective
  • Wear protective clothing; long sleeves and pants
  • Make sure there is no standing water on your property
  • Stay in air conditioned areas fitted with door and window screens
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