Zika Virus Disease

Enniska /February 1, 2016

Zika Virus Disease is caused by a virus transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes in tropical areas with large mosquito populations, and is known to circulate in Africa, the Americas, Southern Asia and Western Pacific.

As of today, the virus is currently active in the following countries: Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, Suriname, US Virgin Islands and Venezuela.

Facts about Zika Virus Disease:

No locally acquired Zika cases have been reported in the continental United States or Canada, but cases have been reported both in Canada & the US in travelers who have returned from one of the affected areas. Transmission is via mosquitoes, which have been unable to survive in cooler climates. No mosquito, no disease.

What are the symptoms of Zika virus disease?            

Zika is a virus transmitted by an Aedes mosquito, which also transmits dengue and chikungunya and other diseases. Zika can cause mild fever, conjunctivitis (pink eye), headache and joint pain and/or a skin rash. Onset is usually 2-7 days after the mosquito bite. Only 1 in 4 people infected with the Zika virus experience symptoms. A very small number of people can develop a serious illness after infection.

If you have recently traveled to one of these areas, are experiencing any of these symptoms and think you might have Zika Virus Disease, book an appointment with your doctor.

Risk to Akwesasronon

The risk to Akwesasronon is low, as mosquitoes known to transmit the virus are not established in Akwesasne and are not well-suited to our climate, particularly during winter months.

Current evidence suggests that Zika virus is likely to persist and spread in the Americas and the South Pacific. Although the risk of virus establishment in Akwesasne is low, there is ongoing risk to Akwesasronon traveling to endemic regions.

Advice to Akwesasronon

Akwesasronon travelers visiting affected areas should help protect themselves against Zika virus by taking individual protective measures to prevent mosquito bites, including using insect repellent, protective clothing, mosquito nets, screened doors and windows. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against a Zika virus infection.

Should pregnant women be concerned about Zika virus?

Health authorities are currently investigating a potential link between Zika virus in pregnant women and microcephaly in their babies. Until more is known, women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should take extra care to protect themselves from mosquito bites when travelling to tropical countries particularly the ones where confirmed transmission has occurred.

What is microcephaly?

Microcephaly is a rare condition where a baby has an abnormally small head. This is due to abnormal brain development of the baby in the womb or during infancy. Babies and children with microcephaly often have challenges with their brain development as they grow older.  Microcephaly can be caused by a variety of environmental and genetic factors such as Downs syndrome; exposure to drugs, alcohol or other toxins in the womb; and rubella infection during pregnancy.

Recommendations for Pregnant Women Considering Travel to an Area of Zika Virus Transmission

Because there are neither vaccines nor medications available to prevent Zika virus infection, CDC recommends that all pregnant women consider postponing travel to areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.

If a pregnant woman travels to an area with Zika virus transmission, she should be advised to strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites. Mosquitoes that spread Zika virus bite both indoors and outdoors, mostly during the daytime; therefore, it is important to ensure protection from mosquitoes throughout the entire day.

Mosquito prevention strategies include wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, using approved insect repellents, using permethrin-treated clothing and gear, and staying and sleeping in screened-in or air-conditioned rooms. When used as directed on the product label, insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, and IR3535 are safe for pregnant women.

If you are pregnant and have recently traveled to an area of Zika virus transmission, make an appointment with your doctor and tell them about your recent travel.

For further questions, please call us at (613) 575-2341 Ext 3220

You can check for regular updates on the World Health Organization’s website http://www.who.int/en/