Wednesday’s Ask Dr. Walt — Zika Basics

Dear Dr. Walt,

What can you tell me about Zika? It’s been in the news so much lately.

—Bitten in Minnesota

Dear Nibbled,

Let me share a few basic facts.

  1. Many areas in the United States have the type of mosquitoes that can spread Zika virus.

These mosquitoes are aggressive daytime biters and can also bite at night. Also, Zika can be passed through sex from a person who has Zika to his or her sex partner.

  1. The best way to prevent Zika is to prevent mosquito bites.

Use an EPA-registered insect repellent. It works! Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Stay in places with air conditioning or window and door screens.

2. Zika is linked to birth defects.

If you are pregnant and have a partner who lives in or has traveled to an area with Zika, do not have sex, or use condoms the right way, every time, during your pregnancy.

3. Pregnant women should not travel to areas with Zika.

If you must travel to one of these areas, talk to your healthcare provider first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip.

5. Returning travelers infected with Zika can spread the virus through mosquito bites.

During the first week of infection, Zika virus can be found in a person’s blood and can pass from an infected person to a mosquito through mosquito bites. An infected mosquito can then spread the virus to other people. Couples with a partner who lives in or has traveled to an area with Zika should take steps to protect during sex.

6. Most people infected with Zika virus won’t have symptoms or will only have mild symptoms.

A blood or urine test can confirm Zika infection diagnosis. But, there is no specific medicine for Zika.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a nice Web site with information that is updated frequently. You can view it at CDC.gov/Zika.


© Copyright WLL, INC. 2017. This blog provides a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.