Zika Virus Facts: What You Need to Know

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CUMBERLAND COUNTY – With the Zika virus receiving heavy media coverage during the past few weeks, the Cumberland County Department of Health (CCDOH) offers the following necessary information to keep residents in South Jersey informed on the subject.
According to the CCDOH, Zika is an infection spread by a virus. Mosquitos that have the virus can transmit it to humans through a bite. Only about one in five individuals who are infected actually show symptoms that include fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes. In those individuals who do experience symptoms, the symptoms are typically mild.
The organization adds that the biggest concern is that the infection may cause a serious birth defect if a pregnant woman is infected. The birth defect that’s been linked to the virus, called microcephaly, is a condition in which the baby’s head is smaller than expected.
While currently mosquitos carrying the Zika virus are not in the U.S. — any cases that have been identified in the U.S. are travel related — there is a “huge need to warn women who are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant about traveling to countries that have infected mosquitos,” according to the CCDOH.
Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and others in the Americas and Caribbean have reported transmission of the Zika virus.
If you are planning a trip to one of those areas, or any tropical area, it is important to protect yourself from mosquito bites in the following ways:
•    Cover skin that is exposed by wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts
•    Stay and sleep in air-conditioned or screened-in places
•    Use EPA-registered insect repellants (if you’re pregnant, seek medical advice on using repellants)
•    Wear permethrin-treated clothing and gear – you can buy pre-treated clothing or treat it yourself
“Following these protections is important for individuals, especially pregnant women or women planning to become pregnant, who are planning to travel to areas where we know the Zika virus is currently a threat,” said Megan Sheppard, Health Officer of the Cumberland County Department of Health.
“We encourage women who travel to one of the affected countries to immediately seek medical care if they are pregnant or planning to become pregnant and have any signs or symptoms of the virus. We will continue to update the public with information on the Zika virus as it evolves.”
The Cumberland County Department of Health can be reached at 856. 327.7602 or online at cdc.gov/Zika.

SNJ Today is a Southern New Jersey news and information source based in Millville, New Jersey that is dedicated to providing current stories related specifically to South Jersey.