(RxWiki News) The threat of Zika virus isn’t over.
From January to August of 2018, there were 34 reported cases of Zika virus disease in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All 34 cases were in travelers who had recently returned from an affected area.
In US territories — primarily the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico — there were 74 reported cases. All 74 cases were acquired through local mosquito-borne transmission, the CDC reported.
Zika virus is primarily spread by the bite of infected Aedes aegypti mosquitos. The virus can also be spread through unprotected sex. Symptoms include fever, rash, red eyes and joint pain. Zika infection during pregnancy has been tied to serious birth defects.
If you are pregnant, do not travel to areas where there is a risk of Zika. Furthermore, if you and your partner are planning on becoming pregnant, consult with your health care provider before traveling.
Health officials recommend that men who might have been exposed to Zika virus wait at least three months after symptom onset before engaging in unprotected sex. Studies report that Zika stays in semen longer than any other body fluid (including vaginal fluids, urine and blood). The good news is that condoms can reduce the chance of Zika transmission.
Although the number of cases has decreased, it’s still important to take the recommended precautions. Consider the following to protect yourself and your loved ones from exposure to Zika:
- Check the latest travel health recommendations for your destination.
- Use EPA-registered insect repellant.
- Wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants.
- Remove standing water around your home.
- Take steps to keep mosquitos out of your home.
- Use condoms to protect yourself during sex.
- After returning from a trip in an area that is affected by Zika, take steps to prevent mosquito bites for three weeks. This step helps prevent spreading Zika to mosquitoes that could spread the virus to other people.
- If you have symptoms of Zika after returning from a destination known to have Zika, go to the doctor.
For more tips on keeping mosquitos away, check out Staying Mosquito-Free This Summer