The Zika Virus

With all of the coverage in the news lately about Zika virus, it is understandable that parents have questions. Following are the facts you need to know about this virus. For the latest information about Zika, visit the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention Zika Resource Center.


WHAT IS ZIKA?

Zika is a virus transmitted to humans through the bite of infected Aedes mosquitoes. It can cause the following symptoms:

  • Rash
  • Fever
  • Pink Eye
  • Joint Pain

Many people who have Zika will never know they were infected. Symptoms are usually mild and clear up in less than a week.


SHOULD YOU BE CONCERNED?

Zika can be a serious disease, particularly when it occurs in a pregnant woman. Infection during pregnancy can result in serious birth defects, including microcephaly (a smaller than normal brain and head associated with a wide range of physical and developmental issues).

Although most children and adults infected with Zika will only have mild illness, a small number may suffer complications involving the brain and nervous system (such as temporary or permanent paralysis). Deaths from Zika are rare.

While there is no vaccine to protect against Zika infection, the public, particularly pregnant women, are encouraged to refrain from traveling to areas where the outbreak is growing.


IS ZIKA IN TEXAS?

As of July 2016, no cases of Zika that have been transmitted locally by a mosquito bite have been reported in Texas, but Zika has been diagnosed in travelers returning to Texas from other countries.

Because Aedes mosquitoes are very common in Texas and across the Gulf Coast, these Zika cases among returning travelers could result in local spread of the virus.


HOW IS ZIKA SPREAD?

Mosquitoes can carry Zika from person to person. If a mosquito bites a person with Zika and then a person without, the second person could get Zika from the first. The mosquitoes that spread Zika virus bite both indoors and outdoors. The Zika virus can also be spread through sexual contact with a partner who has Zika. Pregnant women can transmit Zika to their fetuses.


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PROTECT YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY FROM ZIKA

There are three simple things you can do to reduce the risk of being bitten by a mosquito and becoming infected with Zika:

  • Apply a DEET-containing insect repellent if you plan to be outdoors where mosquitoes are present. DEET is the most effective form of insect repellent and it is safe for pregnant women, breastfeeding women and children older than two months of age. Follow instructions on the product. Do not apply insect repellent onto a child’s hands, eyes or mouth, or onto a cut or irritated skin. Insect repellent may need to be reapplied. If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second. 
     
  • If possible, use air conditioning and close windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of your home. Repair or replace damaged screens on windows or doors. Inspect screens throughout the house. Simple duct tape can be used to repair holes in screens.
     
  • Inspect the area around your home and eliminate the places mosquitoes can use to lay eggs. Mosquitoes need standing water to reproduce. Empty, turn over, cover or throw out anything that can hold standing water, including old tires, buckets, planters, plastic pools, birdbaths, flower pots, trash cans, cups, toys, etc.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Texas Children’s Hospital