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The Zika Virus: Frequently Asked Questions

(U.S. Air Force graphic by Tech. Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez)

(U.S. Air Force graphic by Tech. Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez)

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --

With the increased concern of the Zika virus, you may find yourself with questions about this vector-borne disease. The Public Health Office at Cannon has compiled a list of frequently asked questions for those seeking more information.

How could I contract the Zika virus?

The Zika virus is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito and through engaging in sexual relations with an infected partner. It can also be spread through blood transfusions, and to a mother’s fetus during pregnancy.

Are residents of New Mexico at risk?

The two mosquito species that transmit the Zika virus in the U.S. have been found in southern parts of New Mexico. The New Mexico Department of Health, along with local county health departments are testing a certain percentage of mosquitos for the Zika virus. To date, all results have been negative. As the cold-weather season approaches, we will see a decrease in mosquito population throughout the state.

Is there a test/treatment for the Zika virus?

Blood and urine tests can be completed for individuals showing signs and symptoms of Zika virus through healthcare provider recommendations. Medications such as pain-relievers can be used to treat the symptoms of Zika. At this time no vaccination or specific medication can prevent Zika virus. Drink plenty of water and stay well rested if symptoms occur.

How many positive cases are in the United States?

As of Aug. 31, 2016, there have been 35 cases of confirmed Zika in the U.S. from local transmission and 2,686 cases associated with travel to countries where Zika is prevalent. There are no cases of locally acquired Zika virus in the state of New Mexico. Three cases of Zika virus have been diagnosed in New Mexico and were associated with travel to prevalent countries.

Should pregnant women travel to areas where Zika has been confirmed? What should pregnant women do who have recently traveled to an area with Zika?

Pregnant females should refrain from travel to countries that are a high-risk for Zika virus. If pregnant females have traveled to geographic areas known to have infected mosquitos, they need to talk to a provider even if they are not sick or showing signs and symptoms.

Are any diseases linked to Zika virus?

Research conducted by the World Health Organization has shown that microcephaly and Guillain-Barre Syndrome are caused by the Zika virus.
For more information on microcephaly CLICK HERE
For more information on Guillain-Barre Syndrome CLICK HERE

How do I reduce the mosquito population at home?

The mosquito species that carry the Zika virus lay eggs in standing water. For environmental control, prevent all outdoor items from holding water. Fogging is being conducted throughout the state, but the mosquitos are known to be weak fliers and only capable of flying a few hundred meters in distance at a time. Fogging has been minimally effective thus far, making it much more important to prevent standing water from accumulating in outdoor areas.

How can I prevent a mosquito bite?

Please exercise caution and protect yourself from the Zika virus. Here are a few tips on what you can do to keep yourself safe:
• Avoid stagnant water
• Wear long sleeved shirts
• Use screens on doors and windows
• Use repellents such as DEET or permethrin
• Use condoms during sexual encounters, especially when a partner has recently traveled to a country with active transmission of the Zika virus

If you do show signs and symptoms of the Zika virus, consult a healthcare provider immediately. For all travelers health related questions, please contact the Public Health Office at 575-784-4926 or come visit our Travel Medicine Clinic in the Force Health section at the 27th Special Operations Medical Group. By working with your provider team, we will ensure you are prepared for any health threats you may encounter during your travels with appropriate education and possibly through vaccinations and/or medications, if needed.

For more information on the Zika virus please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/index.html

Further information can be found through the following links:
http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/zika/en/
https://nmhealth.org/about/erd/ideb/zdp/zika