Brenda Fitzgerald, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health, has issued this letter regarding the Zika virus, outlining awareness and prevention efforts.
Because of the health effects caused by the Zika virus disease, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on February 1, 2016. We have been giving you periodic updates from the CDC on Zika and will continue to do so through InsideMGA and the Environmental Health & Safety web page.
We want to remind everyone to please take proper precautions when enjoying the outdoors this summer. Zika is a continuing threat to human health and can be prevented by taking the following safety measures:
- Use insect repellent
- Dress children in clothing that covers arms and legs. Cover cribs, strollers, and carriers with mosquito netting.
- Treat clothing and gear with Permethrin (it lasts a long time on clothing – even after a few washes)
- Use screens on windows and doors in your home.
- Do not leave any standing water inside or outside of your home. Mosquitos lay their eggs near water. Check tires and buckets left outside and remove water from them often.
- Check travel notices regularly before and after a trip. Be aware of the risks of where you are traveling.
- Remember that a man can pass Zika to his partners during sexual intercourse – take precautions.
Pregnant women are the most vulnerable to Zika because they can pass the virus to the fetus. Zika can cause severe fetal brain defects including microcephaly, which is a condition where a baby’s head is much smaller than expected leading to stunted brain development. A recent study of 45 Brazilian babies whose mothers were infected by Zika revealed that babies born without noticeable damage could possibly experience problems as they grow and develop.
9.26.16 Update: On the last update, we informed you that the Miami-Dade county area had locally transmitted Zika cases. As of September 19th, the CDC found that three mosquito incubation periods have passed without any new locally transmitted Zika cases. The CDC has updated the general guidance for traveling within this area, which can be found here.
10.17.16 Update: There have been approximately 3,818 US cases of Zika reported from travel outside of the country. Of these 3,818 cases, 30 were from sexual transmission and 13 resulted in Guillain-Barre syndrome (immune system disorder). Within Georgia, there have been 86 reported cases of Zika, which is 2% of the cases in the US. While there are zero locally acquired Zika cases in Georgia, there have been 105 locally acquired cases across the United States. Please continue to monitor CDC travel notices.
Update: There are now 14 locally acquired, non-travel related infections of Zika in the US (being spread directly by mosquitos). These are all located in Miami-Dade County Florida. The Florida Department of Health posts Zika updates each weekday by 2PM. The CDC recommends that pregnant women and their partners not travel to this area. The CDC is also recommending that all pregnant women in the US be assessed for Zika virus exposure during each prenatal care visit. The Florida Department of Health posts Zika updates each weekday by 2PM.
Below are a few links for parents and those involved with summer camps:
- Tips for talking to your children about Zika and additional information specifically for parents
- Protecting camp staff and campers from Zika
- Protecting children from mosquito bites at camp
Update: The CDC’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is continuously monitoring information about the Zika outbreak and is coordinating emergency response initiatives.
For in-depth information about any of these issues, please visit the CDC’s Zika web page, your local healthcare provider, or contact Environmental Health and Safety. The CDC posts travel and transmission updates regularly.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2016. Zika Virus. https://www.cdc.gov/zika/index.html.
Florida Department of Health. 2016. Department of Health Daily Zika Update. http://www.floridahealth.gov/newsroom/2016/08/080516-zika-update.html.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. 2016. Guillain-Barre Syndrome Fact Sheet. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/gbs/detail_gbs.htm.
The New York Times. 2016. Brain Scans of Brazilian Babies Show Array of Zika Effects. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/24/health/zika-a-formidable-enemy-attacks-and-destroys-parts-of-babies-brains.html?_r=0