When traveling to countries where Zika virus or other viruses spread by mosquitoes are found, take the following steps:
• Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
• Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
• Sleep under a mosquito bed net if air conditioned or screened rooms are not available or if sleeping outdoors.
• Use insect repellents containing an EPA-registered active ingredient on skin and clothing, including DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol or IS 3535.
If you are using sunscreen, apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent.
• Treat clothing and gear with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated items.
Spread of Zika virus has also been reported through sexual contact. Take steps to prevent sexual transmission with proper use of a condom.
If a pregnant woman is concerned that her male partner may have or had Zika virus infection, she should talk to her health care provider.
In early March, Kansas reported its first case of the much-talked about Zika virus. Although there has only been on instance thus far, local and state health officials are bracing for the mosquito-borne disease to spread to the Sunflower state.
“Our Local response to the Zika Virus is mainly education and prevention,” said Barton County Health Director Shelly Schneider. “They are still learning everyday on the extent to which this virus will replicate, so we will try to pass on the information as it becomes available.”
She said her department will follows KDHE’s guidance and offer any support needed. “We will also prepare information for prevention.”
It was on March 11 the Kansas Department of Health and Environment received confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the first Kansan to test positive for Zika virus. The individual is an adult from southwest Kansas and has travel history to a country with local Zika virus transmission.
The person subsequently developed an illness consistent with Zika virus infection and was tested per guidance from CDC and KDHE.
So far, this has been the only case in Kansas, KDHE reported.
In addition, the virus has been reported in 42 states for a total of 312. The most have been in Florida with 74, followed by New York at 46 and Texas at 27.
All of the cases in Kansas thus far are travel-related, meaning A person who was bitten by an infected mosquito while traveling away from home. These are not “local transmission” cases, caused when person who has not traveled recently gets bitten by an infected mosquito where they live.
“Kansas is prepared for the Zika virus, and we are working with health care providers across the state to respond to both suspected and confirmed cases,” said Susan Mosier, MD, MBA, FACS, KDHE Secretary and State Health Officer. “I urge everyone who is considering travel to a country with Zika transmission to be aware of the situation and take precautions to protect themselves and prevent mosquito bites.”
The list of affected areas includes many countries in the Caribbea
n and South and Central America. The list continues to change and can be found at cdc.gov/zika/geo/index.html.
Zika virus infection typically causes a mild illness in those who develop disease. Approximately 80 percent of those infected never show symptoms of the disease, with 20 percent showing mild symptoms. There is no vaccine to prevent infection and no specific antiviral treatment for Zika virus infection. The most common symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes.
The best way to prevent Zika virus is to prevent mosquito bites.
Pregnant women can be infected with Zika virus in any trimester and there have been increased cases of microcephaly possibly associated with Zika virus infections. Pregnant women should consider postponing travel to areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Pregnant women who have recently traveled to an area with Zika virus should talk to a health care provider even if they don’t feel sick. CDC and KDHE have guidance to help doctors decide what tests are needed for pregnant women who may have been exposed to Zika virus.
On Feb. 1, 2016, the World Health Organization declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern because of Zika. On Feb. 8, 2016, CDC elevated its response efforts to a Level 1 activation, the highest response level at the agency.
Prior to 2015, Zika virus outbreaks occurred in areas of Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands.
In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infections in Brazil. Currently, outbreaks are occurring in many countries.