UPDATE: What Kane County Residents Should Know About the Zika Virus

UPDATE: What Kane County Residents Should Know About the Zika Virus

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The Illinois Department of Public Health is reporting three cases of Zika virus disease statewide, as of as of Jan. 28, 2016, but it’s important to note that those three people contracted the disease overseas and the danger it poses to Kane County residents is very low.

Kane County Health Department Executive Director Barb Jeffers underlines that you really don’t have to worry about “catching” the virus here at home because the Zika virus primarily is spread to people through mosquito bites.

“Currently, there is little threat to Illinois residents because there are no mosquitoes at this time of the year,” Jeffers said. “That said, we are taking steps now to contact area providers and gather information, and we’ll continue to add information to our website as it becomes available.”

Kane County residents’ primary concern should be if they are traveling to parts of the world where virus transmission is ongoing. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control has issued a travel alert (Level 2-Practice Enhanced Precautions) for people traveling to certain countries.

The IDPH says anyone who is living in or traveling to an area where Zika virus is found who has not already been infected with Zika virus is at risk for infection, and the danger is most acute for pregnant women. Residents can visit the CDC Travelers’ Health site for the most updated information. See the list and map below for additional information.

The CDC added news late Tuesday (Feb. 2, 2016) that it is possible for the virus to be spread through blood transfusion and sexual contact. The CDC reports that Zika has been sexually transmitted in Texas — the first known case of the virus being acquired in the continental United States in the current outbreak. The CDC said it will provide more guidance as more information on sexual transmission is learned.

Other Things You Can and Should Do

The Illinois Department of Public Health requests that the public and local health officials share information, and the IDPH offers this advice:

  • If you have returned from a country where Zika virus is circulating and you have symptoms of Zika in the two weeks following your return, call your doctor and report your travel history and symptoms.
  • If you are a doctor seeing a symptomatic patient who has traveled to a country where Zika virus is circulating, please contact your local health department to discuss possible Zika virus testing.

How to Recognize the Symptoms

The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.

In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infection in Brazil. The outbreak in Brazil led to reports of Guillain-Barré syndrome and pregnant women giving birth to babies with birth defects and poor pregnancy outcomes.

In response, CDC has issued travel notices for people traveling to regions and certain countries where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.

The Zika Virus is transmitted to humans by Aedes mosquitoes. These mosquitoes are daytime biters, both indoors and outdoors. Technically, the illness is described as a single-stranded RNA virus of the genus Flavivirus, closely related to dengue, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis and West Nile viruses. There is no vaccine against Zika virus, but severe illnesses due to Zika are rare. Because there has been increased incidence of microcephaly in South America, pregnant women are advised not to travel to Zika affected countries.

Zika Virus Prevention

Outbreaks of Zika have been reported in various parts of Central Africa, Southeast Asia, Pacific Islands and recently in the Americas. Transmission of Zika in the continental U.S. has not been reported so far but the virus has been reported in travelers from affected countries. But it is important to remember that it is not transmitted from person to person.

Prevention of the Zika Virus is the same as taking precautions against West Nile Virus:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents.
  • Treat clothing and gear with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated items
  • Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are overseas or outside

Currently the incubation period not known, but it is possibly a few days to a week. The duration of the illness is typically several days to a week. More information about the Zika Virus is available on the CDC website.

Countries and Territories With Active Zika Virus Transmission

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