On the Rise: Zika Virus Infections
On the Rise: Zika Virus Infections
Today, as the World Health Organization convenes emergency talks to address the rapidly spreading Zika virus, it's important to know the facts. Sealed Air's Diversey Care is well known for its hygiene solutions which prevent the spread of many diseases. Peter Teska, Diversey Care's Infection Prevention Application Expert, reviews the facts of the disease and some key methods for prevention.
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Over the last several weeks, the Zika virus has captured an increasing number of headlines worldwide. The Zika virus is an emerging mosquito-borne virus that has spread to 22 countries and territories of the Americas since local transmission was first reported in Brazil last May.
The Zika virus, which is primarily transmitted via Aedes mosquitoes, causes fever, rash, joint pain and headaches for two to seven days, and is also being linked to a condition called microcephaly. Microcephaly results in infants being born with smaller skulls, causing deformity and potential developmental delays, seizures and hearing and vision loss. Pregnant women in many countries are being advised to delay plans for childbirth for at least six months. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently started advising pregnant women to avoid traveling to countries with Zika virus infections.
Unfortunately, U.S. scientists are warning that it could be a decade before a Zika virus vaccine is publicly available. And it’s anticipated that the virus will spread to more countries and infect many more people. Why?
Aedes mosquitoes are present in all of the North, Central and South American countries except Canada and continental Chile. Infected mosquitoes within these areas can pass the virus on to human populations. If an infected person is bitten by a mosquito, the mosquito can become infected and subsequently pass the infection to other people through bites. International air travel will also aid the spread of the virus as infected people can carry the virus back to their country. Since four out of five people infected with Zika virus do not show symptoms, this is a real concern.
Limiting the spread
Zika virus should be on your radar, especially if you’re traveling to affected regions in the coming weeks or months. The following tips can help minimize contact with mosquitoes:
- Use governmental registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), or IR3535 on exposed skin and outer layers of clothing.
- Wear light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and long pants in heavier fabrics.
- Eliminate any standing water in and around residences, as this is where mosquitoes like to breed.
- Use screens on windows and doors to prevent mosquitoes from entering residences, and sleep under mosquito nets in areas that are not well-screened.
The Zika virus is a small, enveloped virus, which is relatively easy to kill on environmental surfaces using disinfectants. Environmental contamination does not appear to play a role in its transmission because mosquitoes are the main source. If environmental surfaces are visibly covered with infected blood or body fluids, the use of disinfectants, hand hygiene and barriers may play a role in prevention. However, their role has not yet been proven. We’ll continue to track the spread of this virus and update you on additional precautions.