Summer is just around the corner and the threat of contracting the Zika virus through mosquito bites is creating a public health concern again. Since its resurgence in 2015, the number of symptomatic cases in the US states has grown significantly.
In 2016, 5,102 cases of Zika virus were reported with 4,830 of those from travelers in affected areas. 224 cases were transmitted through local mosquitos in the US and 48 were acquired through other transmission such as sex, lab work or other means of person-to-person contact. In 2016, 54 cases were reported in Rhode Island. Data from January 1 to May 10 reports 110 cases of Zika with two reported in Rhode Island. Unfortunately at this time, there is no vaccine or medications available to prevent the virus.
Anyone who contracts Zika is negatively affected with symptoms of:
- joint pain
- red eyes
- muscle pain
Pregnant women and those planning to become pregnant are most at risk. The virus can be passed to the fetus resulting in a serious brain defect called microcephaly, which is a sign of incomplete brain development. This link was definitively confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in April 2016.
“If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant and you or your partner are planning to travel this summer, check to see if your destination has Zika travel notices,” said Dr. Mary Christina Simpson of South County Health Center for Women’s Health.
The CDC has issued travel notices for certain regions of Cape Verde, Mexico, Africa (Angola and Guinea-Bissau), Asia (Maldives, Singapore), the Caribbean, the Pacific Island and South America.
"Pregnant women, those planning to become pregnant or a partner planning to travel, are strongly encouraged to not travel to Zika infected areas, but if they do plan to make the trip, they should speak with their doctor to ensure they practice all of the precautions to prevent contracting the virus,” said Dr. Simpson.
For more information on the Zika virus, visit the CDC online at www.cdc.gov/zika or call the South County Health Center for Women’s Health at 401 789-0661. The Center for Women’s Health has three convenient locations in
East Greenwich, Wakefield and Westerly.