Zika virus is a disease that can be transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. Zika can also be transmitted through blood transfusions, having sexual intercourse with an infected person, and can passed from an infected pregnant woman to her fetus. Aedes Aegypti is the mosquito that is primarily responsible for transmitting the virus to humans. It is a tropical species that is not found in Indiana, therefore, the possibility for a local Zika virus outbreak in Saint Joseph County is extremely low. Another species of interest, Aedes Albopictus, has the potential to transmit the disease to humans. It has only been found capable of transmitting Zika in a labaoratory setting and has not been linked to a Zika outbreak in a natural environment.
In 2017, there was a total of three travel-associated Zika cases reported in Indiana. For the current Indiana Zika Count, please visit http://in.gov/isdh/26910.htm.
People who have become infected with Zika may not experience symptoms or will only have mild symptoms. The most common symptoms are: fever, rash, joint pain, muscle pain, headache and conjunctivitis (red eyes). During pregnancy, Zika virus can cause birth defects including microcephaly, a defect of the brain. Other brain abnormalities and microcephaly can also develop in infants that were exposed to the virus during pregnancy.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following to travelers who are visiting places where Zika virus is present:
- Consider postponing travel to any area where Zika virus is spreading.
- If you must travel to one of these areas, talk to your healthcare provider first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip.
- If you have a male partner who lives in or has traveled to an area where Zika is spreading, either abstain from sex or use condoms for the duration of your pregnancy.
Women trying to get pregnant
- Before you or your male partner travel, talk to your healthcare provider about your plans to become pregnant and the risk of Zika virus infection.
- You and your male partner should strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during the trip.
Men with pregnant sex partners
- Men who live or are traveling in an area with active Zika virus transmission should take steps to prevent mosquito bites.
- You and your partner should abstain from sex or use condoms consistently and correctly for the duration of your partner’s pregnancy.
Prevent mosquito bites
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants to reduce the amount of exposed skin.
- Stay in doors with air conditioning. Ensure window screens are in good repair and keep exterior doors closed tightly. Sleep under a mosquito bed net if these accommodations are not available.
- Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents. When used as directed, these insect repellents are proven safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Look for products containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, and IR3535 as the active ingredients. Always follow the product label instructions and reapply as directed. If you are using sunscreen, apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent.
- Treat clothing and gear with permethrin or buy permethrin-treated items. Do NOT use permethrin products directly on skin. They are intended to treat clothing.