Lehigh Valley Health Network: Luther V. Rhodes III, M.D. discusses Zika virus
Q. What is the Zika virus?
A. The Zika virus is a virus carried by a mosquito.
Q. How is the Zika virus transmitted?
A. The virus is almost always acquired by a mosquito bite. It also can spread from an infected mother to a child in the womb and, to a smaller degree, by sexual contact or blood transfusions.
Q. What are the symptoms of the virus?
A. The primary symptoms are a fever, rash, red eyes and joint pains.
Q. Who is at risk?
A. Anyone any age is at risk if exposed to mosquitoes in a country with active Zika circulating.
Q. What can people do to prevent becoming infected with the Zika virus?
A. Prevention starts with avoiding mosquito bites. Also wearing long sleeves, long pants, socks, insect repellent and DEET, using screens and air conditioning and removing standing water near the home can help to prevent infection.
Q. How is a patient treated?
A. No antiviral medication exists, but avoiding aspirin and using acetaminophen helps with symptoms.
Q. Is there a vaccine to prevent the Zika virus?
A. There is no vaccine currently, but that is a promising hope for the future resolution of Zika risk.
Q, What are the risks associated with Zika?
A. The biggest risk with Zika are birth defects if the infection with the virus occurs in a pregnant woman.
Q. How many cases have been diagnosed in the United States?
A. Already over 100, and the reported number is expected to rise much higher, though no cases yet have been acquired inside the United States.
Q. What is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doing about Zika?
A. The CDC is helping educate the medical community as well as the public about risks and protective measures and is supporting vaccine research.
Editor’s Note: The Pennsylvania Department of Health announced Feb. 9 the first confirmed cases of Zika virus in two residents who recently traveled to countries affected by the ongoing outbreak of the disease.