Although none were in in Barton County, there have been four confirmed cases of the mosquito-borne zika virus in Kansas, Barton County Health Director Shelly Schneider said, adding that we should all still be taking precautions.
She advised the following tips for avoiding mosquito bites:
• Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
• Stay in places with air conditioning and window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
Take steps to control mosquitoes inside and outside your home.
• Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are overseas or outside and are not able to protect yourself from mosquito bites.
• Use Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellents with one of the following active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or para-menthane-diol. Choosing an EPA-registered repellent ensures the EPA has evaluated the product for effectiveness. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breast-feeding women.
• Stay inside at dust and in the evening when mosquitoes are more active.
According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, 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, the World Health Organization declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern because of zika. On Feb. 8 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.