For the Health of it: County Health Department warns of Zika Virus

CHENANGO COUNTY – Zika is a virus that is spread by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes are primarily found in Central and South America. The mosquito that is the most efficient at spreading Zika virus (Aedes aegypti) is not found in New York State. There is, however, another mosquito specie known as Aedes albopictus that can also transmit the virus which can be found in the southern parts of the United States; including some southern portions of New York State.

This type of mosquito is not quite as efficient at transmitting Zika virus, but both are aggressive daytime biters, in addition ti the usual dusk-to-night biters.

Unlike most other communicable diseases, researchers have recently found that the Zika Virus can also be spread from human to human through sexual transmission. So far, the CDC can only confirm the sexual transmission from male to female, and the virus can be spread before, during, and after men have symptoms. What is know is that the Zika Virus can be present in semen much longer than in blood.

While the clinical presentations of the illness are usually mild, four out of five people with Zika virus will show symptoms. The most common symptoms include fever, rash, joint and muscle pain, headache, and/or redness of the eyes. Currently, there is no specific treatment or vaccine for Zika and most individuals recover on their own.

According to public health officials, including the CDC, World Health Organization and New Zealand Ministry of Health, the real concern is the effect that Zika has on a mother’s fetus during pregnancy. Zika has been linked to a number birth defects in babies, notably microcephaly.

Microcephaly is a condition in which an infant's head is much smaller than normal. During pregnancy, a baby’s head grows relative to prenatal brain growth. It is believed that Microcephaly can occur as a result of underdeveloped fetal brain growth during pregnancy; sometimes continuing after the birth of he child resulting in a smaller head size.

Microcephaly can be an isolated condition, meaning that it can occur with no other major birth defects, or it can occur in combination with other major birth defects.

Women who are pregnant or are thinking of becoming pregnant should refrain from traveling to high risk Zika areas, and practice caution before sexually engaging with partners who have traveled abroad to high-risk areas.

To keep up to date on current health-related bulletins, the Zika Virus or other community events, follow Chenango County Public Health on Facebook, on Twitter at Public Health@ChenanPubHealth.

For questions or additional information, contact the Chenango County Health Department at 337-1660.

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