Zika virus Prevention

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Zika virus is spread through mosquito biting and sexual transmission. Currently there is no vaccine to prevent Zika virus and no medicine to treat Zika fever. Research is going on and it is currently estimated that it may take 3-5 years for a vaccine or medicine to be developed to tackle Zika.

How does Zika virus spread

  • Mosquito bites: Zika virus is mainly spread to humans by mosquitoes. There is substantial evidence that infected mosquitoes transmit Zika virus to humans through their bites. The Aedes aegypti mosquito can bite four of five people in the course of one blood meal. This means that they can spread the virus quickly.
  • Sexual transmission: There have been several case of sexual transmission of Zika virus. According to reports of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, Zika virus can stay in the semen of an infected male for up to 10 weeks. CDC recommends men who live in or traveled to destinations where Zika virus is active to abstain from sexual activity.
  • Blood transfusions: There are cases where Zika virus is transmitted through blood transfusions. Major blood banks like the American Red Cross have advised donors to delay blood donation by at least 28 days after returning from a Zika virus destination.
  • Other bodily fluids: Presence of Zika virus in breast milk, saliva and urine samples of infected persons is reported. However, no reports of transmission of virus in any of these ways is reported yet.

Prevent Mosquito Bites

Since the main source of Zika virus transmission is through mosquitoes, care should be taken to prevent mosquito bites.

  • Breeding of mosquitoes could be prevented by removal and modification of breeding sites
    • Residents should get rid of inside flower vases and water tanks, and outdoors in empty pails, clogged gutters or wherever water pools
  • Reduce the contact between mosquitoes and people
    • wear clothes (preferably light-coloured) that cover as much of the body as possible
    • Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants
      • Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents). You can buy pre-treated clothing and gear or treat them yourself.
    • use EPA-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), or IR3535. Always use as directed.
      • Pregnant and breastfeeding women can use all EPA-registered insect repellents, including DEET, according to the product label.
      • Most repellents, including DEET, can be used on children aged >2 months.
    • use physical barriers such as screens, closed doors and windows
    • sleeping under mosquito nets
  • empty, clean or cover containers that can hold water such as buckets, flower pots or tyres
  • Special attention should be given to those who cannot protect themselves from mosquito bites such as young children, the sick or elderly
  • Health authorities should spray insecticides during outbreaks
  • Stay and sleep in screened-in or air-conditioned rooms.

Sexual Transmission

Main Article: Sexual transmission of Zika virus

On February 2, 2016 the first case of sexual transmission of Zika virus was reported in the United States. A patient contracted the disease in Dallas County after having sexual contact with a person who was infected with the Zika virus in a country where Zika virus was present. Health officials are saying that next to abstinence, condoms are the best prevention method against any sexually transmitted infections.