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Zika: What You Need to Know

February 5, 2016

Morrisville – The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus transmitted primarily by Aedes mosquitos. This mosquito species is not present in Vermont and state epidemiologists with the Vermont Department of Health (VDH) do not expect to see local transmission of Zika virus in our area. Outbreaks of Zika virus have occurred in Africa, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, parts of the Carribbean, and Central and South America. According to the VDH, cases have been reported among returning travelers to the continental United States, and it is expected that Vermont will see cases among travelers returning to Vermont.

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) issued a travel alert for people traveling to countries and territories where Zika virus transmission is occurring. The CDC maintains an up-to-date list of areas with active Zika virus transmission on their website.

Most people who get the virus do not get sick. However, a pregnant mother can pass it to her baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth. There have been reports of microcephaly (a serious birth defect of the brain) in babies whose mothers were infected while pregnant. Spread of the virus through blood transfusion and sexual contact have also been reported.
According to the CDC, one in five people do get symptoms, which can include a fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (pinkeye). Symptoms are usually mild, and start 2 to 7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

Additional information is available at cdc.gov and the Medline Plus website.

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