Zika virus update

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 webpage.

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.

There are still zero locally acquired mosquito-borne cases reported in the US, but there have been approximately 1,400 US cases reported from travel outside of the country. Of these 1,400 cases, 15 were from sexual transmission and 5 resulted in Guillain-Barre syndrome (immune system disorder). Within Georgia, there have been 39 reported cases of Zika, which is 3% of the cases in the US.

Updates (8/8/2016):

There are now 6 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 week day 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 week day by 2PM.

There have been approximately 1,800 US cases of Zika reported from travel outside of the country. Of these 1,800 cases, 16 were from sexual transmission and 5 resulted in Guillain-Barre syndrome (immune system disorder). Within Georgia, there have been 42 reported cases of Zika, which is 2% of the cases in the US.

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

The CDC has announced that they will begin awarding a total of $60 million to US states, cities, and territories to support efforts against Zika virus disease.

For in depth information about any of these issues, please visit the CDC’s Zika webpage, your local healthcare provider, or contact Environmental Health and Safety. The CDC posts travel and transmission updates regularly.

References:

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.