Zika Virus Update
(February 11, 2016)
We appreciate that NEC is a global community and that many of its members live, travel and perform all over the world. Please take a few moments to read the following health advisory on the Zika Virus, a topic that has recently been extensively covered in the news.
Zika virus is a mosquito-borne illness that was recently declared an international public health emergency by the World Health Information (WHO). While this is a rare virus in the United States with only one confirmed case in Boston, you may have questions about how this virus could affect you. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the WHO are rapidly developing information and here is what we currently know.
Facts about Zika Virus:
- Zika virus is transmitted through mosquito bites, although evidence is beginning to show that it may also be sexually transmitted.
- The species of mosquito carrying Zika virus does not live in New England. Countries considered in the affected area are listed on the CDC’s website at http://www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/index.html.
- Zika has little or no symptoms – only about 1 in 5 people infected with it will develop symptoms such as rash, fever, joint pain and red eyes. The vast majority of infected people will experience no symptoms and will require no medical attention.
- The focus of concern is on pregnant women who are in - or may travel to - affected areas, and women who may become pregnant during - or shortly after - travel to affected areas.
- Though it has not been clinically proven, the Zika virus may potentially cause microcephaly in unborn babies. Microcephaly is a rare condition in which an infant’s head is smaller than expected, and the brain does not develop properly. While reports of microcephaly have increased as Zika spreads, only a handful of cases have been strongly linked to Zika virus.
- There is currently no vaccine available for Zika virus.
What to do if you are planning to travel to a region affected by Zika Virus
The CDC, along with state and local health authorities, has issued advice for people considering travel to affected areas:
- Pregnant women should consider avoiding travel to affected areas. If travel is necessary, women should speak with their health care providers about how to avoid mosquito bites.
- Women who could become pregnant while traveling to affected areas may want to talk to their health care providers about contraception.
- All others are advised to travel with protective clothing and mosquito repellent.
Visit the CDC Website for the most up-to- date information about the Zika Virus by clicking on http://www.cdc.gov/zika/index.html
- From the CDC - Zika Virus Disease Q & A (also available in Spanish) http://www.cdc.gov/zika/disease-qa.html
- From the Massachusetts Department of Public Health - Zika Virus Fact Sheet http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/docs/dph/cdc/factsheets/v-z/zika-factsheet.pdf
- From the Boston Public Health Commission - Zika Virus Information (also available in Spanish and Portuguese) http://www.bphc.org/whatwedo/infectious-diseases/Infectious-Diseases-A-to-Z/Pages/Zika-Virus.aspx
- From the CDC - Mosquito Bite Prevention for Travelers http://www.cdc.gov/chikungunya/pdfs/fs_mosquito_bite_prevention_travelers.pdf
Tips to Stay Healthy:
There are a number of great health resources on the web and in past issues of Student Health 101 (http://necmusic.readsh101.com/). Keep informed on topics ranging from how to treat common summer time rashes (ex. poison ivy), sunburns, and bug bites to how to prevent heat stroke and exposure to mosquito borne illnesses like Zika and West Nile Virus
Check out some of the links below to read more about these topics and how to stay healthy in the summer: