According to recent news reports, there are about 80 travel-related cases of the Zika virus in Michigan and Ohio combined. As we head into the Labor Day weekend, health experts recommend taking precautions to prevent mosquito bites that may transmit the virus, especially for pregnant women. Pregnant women who are infected with Zika virus can pass the virus to their unborn child during the pregnancy or around the time of birth.
It is important to note that the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services states on its website that “Michigan is considered ‘low risk’ for mosquito transmission of Zika, dengue, and chikungunya viruses, as the mosquitoes that spread the diseases have not been found in the state. Rather, the primary risk of transmission in Michigan is from traveling to infected areas, or through sexual transmission with a male partner returning from an area with Zika activity.”
If you are traveling, “the best medicine is prevention of exposure, such as wearing long sleeves and pants, using insect repellent and staying indoors,” says Pedro Roca, MD, ProMedica maternal-fetal medicine specialist. “And as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended, pregnant women should consider postponing travel to affected areas.”
The mosquito-borne virus is mainly spread through a bite from an infected Aedes species mosquito. Zika may also be transmitted through blood transfusions and sexual contact, even if the infected person does not have symptoms at the time. One in five people exposed to the virus will develop symptoms, which can include fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes.
Here are some tips from the CDC for preventing mosquito bites:
- Always follow the product label instructions.
- Reapply insect repellent as recommended.
- Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.
- If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.
- Always follow instructions when applying insect repellent to children.
- Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than two months.
- Do not apply insect repellent onto a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, and cut or irritated skin. Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child’s face.
- Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD) on children under three years of age.
“There is no need for panic, but it is always important to take steps to keep yourself and your family protected,” Dr. Roca says.
For more information about Zika, visit www.cdc.gov.