ZIKA VIRUS INFORMATION
Zika Virus Basics
Zika virus is a virus spread to people through mosquito bites of Aedes species mosquitoes; sexual transmission of Zika virus is also known to occur. Aedes mosquitoes also spread dengue and chikungunya viruses. Outbreaks of Zika virus disease have occurred in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. Zika virus is not currently being spread by mosquitoes in the continental United States.
The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.
In May 2015, Zika virus was identified in Brazil and has resulted in a large outbreak in that country. There have been reports in Brazil of pregnant women with poor pregnancy outcomes, including giving birth to babies with a condition called microcephaly. Microcephaly is a birth defect where a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age. In response, CDC has issued a travel alert (Level 2-Practice Enhanced Precautions) for people traveling to regions and certain countries where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. There have also been reports of a potential association between Zika virus infection and Guillain-Barre syndrome, a neurological disease that can affect children and adults.
Limited Zika virus transmission has been reported in certain areas of the United States; however, no transmission has been identified in Maryland at this time. All Zika virus infections detected in Maryland have been associated with travel to countries with ongoing Zika transmission.
Currently, the mosquito primarily respnosible for transmitting Zika is the Aedes aegypti mosquito (pictured above). While that mosquito is not known to frequent Wicomico County, the concern is that the Aedes albopictus mosquito (Asian Tiger, pictured below) may transmit Zika and other disease. These mosquitoes asociate themselves closely with humans and typically flies and feeds in the daytime in addition to at dusk and dawn.
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