Zika Virus Infections, with local transmission has been reported in French Guiana. Local transmission means that mosquitoes in this area are infected with Zika virus and are transmitting it to people. Since Zika virus is mostly spread by mosquitoes, WHO recommends that travelers to French Guiana should protect themselves from mosquito bites to avoid Zika Virus Infections.
Sexual transmission of Zika virus is also possible, so passengers are encourage to use condoms or abstain from having sex. Most people contracting Zika virus do not feel sick. Among those who develop signs, illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week. Zika may also be relate to Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), a rare disorder that causes muscle weakness and even paralysis for a few weeks to months. Most people fully recover from GBS while some have permanent damage. It is often difficult to determine specific areas with Zika since they are likely to change over time. Everybody needs to check back frequently for the most up-to-date information about the outbreak.
Zika Virus Infections in Pregnancy
Zika Virus Infections can be transmit from a pregnant woman to her fetus, and infection is associate with a serious abnormality of the brain called microcephaly and other poor birth defects. CDC recommends special precautions for:
1. Women who are pregnant:
- Postpone travel to French Guiana.
- If you have to travel, consult with your doctor first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during your trip.
- If your male partner lives in or has travel to an area with Zika outbreak, either use condoms or abstain from having sex during your pregnancy.
2. Women who are trying to become pregnant:
- You and your male partner should follow steps to prevent mosquito bites.
- Talk to your doctor about your plans to be pregnant and the risk of Zika virus infections.
3. Men who have travel to an affect area and have a pregnant partner:
- Use condoms or do not have sex during the pregnancy.
No vaccine or medicine is commercially available for Zika. Travelers have to protect themselves from mosquito bites:
- Cover expose skin with long-sleeve shirts, long pants, shoes, hats, gloves, and socks.
- Use EPA-registered insect repellents containing DEET, IR3535, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Always follow the label instructions.
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women can use EPA-register insect repellents, according to the product label.
- Most repellents can be used on children older than two months. Do not use OLE on children younger than three years.
- Use permethrin-treat clothing and gear (e.g., pants, socks, boots, and tents). You can purchase per-treat clothing or treat them yourself.
- Sleep under a mosquito bed net if sleeping outdoors.
- Stay in places with air conditioning or window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
- Use mosquito netting to cover babies younger than two months of age in carriers, cribs, or strollers.
- Sexual transmission of Zika Virus Infections is possible. Always use condoms when you have sex.
Most insect repellents can be used on children, pregnant or nursing women. Any product containing oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) should not be use in children under the age of three. People can use both a sunscreen and an insect repellent at the same time. Follow the instructions on the label for proper application of each product. The recommendation is to apply sunscreen first, and then repellent.
It is not advisable to use a single product that combines sunscreen and insect repellent. Repellent does not need to be reapply as regularly as sunscreen. There are no specific recommendations for products that combine sunscreen and other active ingredients. Always follow the instructions on the package of whatever product you are using.
Permethrin is an insecticide and repellent. Certain products containing permethrin can be used on clothing and gear. Permethrin-treated products kill bugs, ticks, mosquitoes, and other arthropods. They continue to kill insects after several washings. Follow the label instructions when using permethrin.
Most people affected with Zika virus do not feel sick. After a mosquito bites an infected patient, it will contract the virus in that person’s blood and spread the virus by biting another person. Even though they do not feel sick, travelers returning from an area with Zika infection should take steps to prevent mosquito bites for three weeks so that they do not spread the virus to uninfect mosquitoes.
If you feel sick and think you might have Zika:
- Talk to a doctor if you develop a fever, headache, rash, red eyes, joint pain, or muscle pain. Tell him or her about your travel.
- Take lots of rest and drink plenty of fluids.
- Take acetaminophen (paracetamol) to relieve pain and fever. Do not take aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen) since they increase the risk of internal hemorrhage.
If you are pregnant:
- After returning from areas with Zika, you should talk to your doctor about testing for Zika virus infections.
- If you develop any typical symptom, talk to your doctor immediately and tell him about your travel.
- If you are asymptomatic, testing could be consider 2–12 weeks after you return from travel.
Zika and Microcephaly
An outbreak of Zika virus infections was first recognize in Brazil in early 2015. A sharp increase in the number of cases of microcephaly was report in September in outbreak areas. Microcephaly means the head circumference is more than 2 standard deviations (SD) below the standard for gender and gestational age at birth.
Among the first 35 cases of microcephaly, 74% of mothers reported a rash sickness during pregnancy, 71% of infants suffered severe microcephaly, and nearly half had at least one neurological abnormality. Cerebrospinal fluid from all newborn babies is being test for Zika virus.
The increase cases of microcephaly associated with cerebral damage in Zika virus-affect areas are suggestive of a possible connection. Additional studies are conduct to demonstrate the association and to fully characterize the phenotype. Besides removing potential breeding sites for mosquitoes, pregnant women in affected areas should wear protective clothing, apply EPA-approve insect repellents, and sleep in a screen room or under a mosquito bed net. Be careful with fever in French Guiana.
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