Summer and the Threat of Zika




ummer is almost here. The season promises sun, fun — and alarmingly this year, the Zika virus.


World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said, “In less than a year, the status of Zika has changed from a mild medical curiosity to a disease with severe public health implications. The more we know the worse things look.”


Do you want to know more about Zika and its consequences before summer arrives? Read WiRED International’s “Practical Zika Q&A.”


"In less than a year, the status of Zika has changed from a mild medical curiosity to a disease with severe public health implications. The more we know the worse things look."
— Dr. Margaret Chan,
World Health Organization
March 23, 2016

WiRED's Practical Zika Q&A

Q: How can I contract the Zika virus?
A: The Zika virus is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito, but can also be spread through sex. People returning from areas where Zika occurs should adopt safe sexual practices or consider abstinence for at least four weeks after their return to reduce the risk of transmission.
Q: What are the signs of Zika?
A: Most people infected with Zika won't even know it. The most common symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis, muscle pain and headache. If you experience any of these signs, visit your health care provider.
Q: Is there a test to detect Zika?
A: During the first week after the onset of symptoms, Zika can often be diagnosed through a blood test called reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) on serum.
Q: Is there a vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika?
A: Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat the Zika virus.
Q: What are the possible consequences of Zika?
A: Zika can cause microcephaly and other severe birth defects in babies and diseases such as Guillain-Barré syndrome and other neurological conditions in adults.
Q: How can I protect myself against mosquito bites?
A: Use insect repellant according to guidelines, cover exposed skin, avoid areas of standing water and, when traveling to Zika-active areas, stay in air conditioned rooms with solid window/door screens and mosquito netting. Use of an electric fan at night can also discourage mosquitoes.
Q: How do I protect my children?
A: Use insect repellant on children older than two months old, but do not let children touch the repellant or get it on their hands. For babies under two months old, drape an elastic mosquito netting over their cribs, car seats or carriers.
Q: What if I am pregnant?
A: WHO and CDC do not recommend travel to Zika-active areas for pregnant women. If you must travel, follow strict precautions against getting bitten and use insect repellents that are registered, safe and effective, and check with your doctor upon your return.
Q: Can the Zika virus be transmitted through breastfeeding?
A: The Zika virus has been detected in breast milk, but there is currently no evidence that the virus is transmitted to babies through breastfeeding.
Q: If I want to get pregnant after traveling to the Olympics, how long should I wait?
A: You should wait at least eight weeks after travel if you have no symptoms of Zika. If you have symptoms, wait at least eight weeks after symptoms start. Men with Zika symptoms should wait at least six months after symptoms start before trying conception. If you are uncertain about your Zika status, you should ask your doctor about a test before considering getting pregnant.
Q: I am traveling to the summer Olympics, so what do I need to know?
A: Before you go, schedule an appointment with your health care provider to discuss recommendations and precautions for traveling to Brazil. Pack a travel health kit and monitor Zika warnings and alerts.


In response to the threat of the virus, WiRED offers free and downloadable Zika Modules for health care professionals and for grassroots audiences in English, Spanish and Portuguese. WiRED believes that knowledge is a critical element in combating Zika.




















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