Zika Fever Has Arrived (Pedcast)

Topic Introduction

Let me tell you, Zika fever has definitely arrived in Charlotte as I suspect it has in most of the US, No, not the disease, but a fever pitch of concern among couples of reproductive age. Mosquito born and potentially devastating for unborn babies, Zika could be a serious threat to our unborn.  There is an uneasiness that you can feel among the 20 and 30 somethings. Like a first trimester pregnant young mom who recently asked me about what precautions she should be taking with regards to mosquitos, or the worried parents who are asking about whether they should go on international travel trips and risk a Zika infection, or a family with a child who has severe neurologic problems who asked me was she responsible for her child’s problems by taking a vacation to the Caribbean when she was 18 weeks pregnant.  In other words, there is fever pitch of concern about Zika, so in today’s podcast, I thought it is time for you to learn what we know to date about this emerging disease.

Musical Introduction

Essential Knowledge About Zika

1.Here are the salient points you need to know:

Zika is a serious concern during pregnancy. That fact has been established. The CDC has confirmed a strong association of Zika infection during pregnancy and microcephaly as well as other birth brain defects.

Zika has the potential to be a very serious health problem for the unborn but not so much for older individuals. It is actually a mild disease in children and adults.

Experts think that even in Brazil, only a very small percentage of pregnant women will have a Zika infection during their pregnancies <1%. In other words, pregnancy is common but congenital Zika is not.

To date, Zika has been a very rare disease in US. Of the 358 confirmed cases diagnosed in the US, 351 have traveled of these people have traveled to endemic areas.

While we have the specific variety of mosquito that carries Zika, our domestic mosquitos, to date, don’t seem to be have become infected.

Currently, people seem to only be getting infected from travel to South America, Central America, and Puerto Rico and Caribbean. So far, so good but mosquito season is coming.

To date, the only certain method of diagnosis is with blood tests that continue to improve at a rapid pace.

And finally, as of today, there is no vaccine or treatment of a Zika infection.

 

  1. So your pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant–what do you need to do? Here is what experts recommend:

Don’t travel to endemic areas if at all possible and be careful if you have intimate contact with someone who does travel to these areas, especially if they have been sick.

If, and this is a big if, if Zika starts to infect domestic mosquitos, avoidance of mosquito bites becomes your best defense- See CDC recommendations about that. Their recommendations consist mainly of wearing long clothes, avoiding mosquito exposure, and the use of repellants and screens including mosquito nets for sleeping.

Avoid the outdoors during mosquito biting season.

That camping trip you had your heart on, maybe not.

Planning a trip to Brazil for the Olympics, watch it on TV.

If you are pregnant and have Zika symptoms, fever, rash, joint aches, red eyes and headache–talk to your doctor. Testing is available and might be very helpful.

Outro

As always, thanks for joining me today for this important pedcast. If you have questions or comments, feel free to write your comments on my blog or on social media. I do my best at responding to all comments. this is Doc Smo, until next time.

 

Smo notes

CDC weighs in

–Patterns in Zika Virus Testing and Infection, by Report of Symptoms and Pregnancy Status — United States, January 3–March 5, 2016 Sharoda Dasgupta, PhD; Sarah Reagan-Steiner, MD; Dana Goodenough, MPH; Kate Russell, MD; Mary Tanner, MD; Lillianne Lewis, MD; Emily E. Petersen, MD; Ann M. Powers, PhD; Krista Kniss, MPH; Dana Meaney-Delman, MD; Titilope Oduyebo, MD; Dan O’Leary, DVM; Sophia Chiu, MD; Pamela Talley, MD; Morgan Hennessey, DVM; Susan Hills, MBBS; Amanda Cohn, MD; Christopher Gregory, MD; The Zika Virus Response Epidemiology and Laboratory Team Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2016;65(15):395-399. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm6515e1.htm?s_cid=mm6515e1_e

 

–Brazilian expert speaks of his experience with Zika

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/860687#vp_1

 

–CDC insect repellent advice

http://www.cdc.gov/chikungunya/pdfs/fs_mosquito_bite_prevention_travelers.pdf

 

2 Comments

    • DocSmo says:

      Crystal, Good question. Experts are still working out the details but I think the current understanding is that an infected person is contagious just before their sickness and for about a week beyond that. Once the sickness is over, no more virus is being shed. Remember though, that many people get infected and have no symptoms but are still contagious. That is why I stated in the article that having intimate contact with people who have traveled to endemic areas, especially if they have been sick, has its risks. I hope that helps.

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