Zika Virus Spreading In The Americas

Dr. Cara Christ, Director of Arizona Department of Health Services, advised Arizonans last week that a new viral disease, the Zika virus, spread by Aedes species mosquitoes has appeared in the Americas. According to Christ, the virus has since spread to 18 Brazilian states, as well as Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, and Venezuela, with most new detections occurring in November 2015.

According to the CDC:

Zika virus is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These are the same mosquitoes that spread dengue and chikungunya viruses.

•Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on a person already infected with the virus. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to other people through bites.

•A mother already infected with Zika virus near the time of delivery can pass on the virus to her newborn around the time of birth, but this is rare.

•To date, there are no reports of infants getting Zika virus through breastfeeding. Because of the benefits of breastfeeding, mothers are encouraged to breastfeed even in areas where Zika virus is found.

•In theory, Zika virus could be spread through blood transfusion. To date, there are no known reports of this happening.

•There has been one report of possible spread of the virus through sexual contact.

•These mosquitoes typically lay eggs in and near standing water in things like buckets, bowls, animal dishes, flower pots and vases. They are aggressive daytime biters, prefer to bite people, and live indoors and outdoors near people.

“Disease detectives in Arizona are now considering Zika virus (in addition to dengue and chikungunya) in travelers with compatible symptoms who have traveled to affected countries,” wrote Christ last week. “Illness caused by Zika virus is usually mild and does not often require hospitalization. Symptoms typically last for a week or less.”

No cases have been reported in Arizona.

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