For those living in Southeast Florida, the recent expansion of the Zika virus has become a cause for concern. Rightly so. Geographically, it’s not hard to conceive that ours is a potentially vulnerable area.
The World Health Organization became alarmed when the Zika virus, native to Africa, began to present itself in Brazil, with between 400,000 and 1.3 million cases. Making its way through Central America, many feel the U.S. could be in Zika’s crosshairs. Despite these concerns, expressed both the medical community and the public at large, fear can be as much an enemy as the virus itself. Accurate information can bring clarity and understanding, and can serve to assuage some of the anxiety that exists.
The Zika virus is primarily spread through a bite from the Aedes mosquito. It is generally accepted that only 1 in 5 people infected with the virus will ever get sick, but other studies estimate the number to be 1 in 10 to 1 in 20. Most people who contract the Zika virus may never discover they have it unless they are tested. The vast majority who actually do get sick usually don’t even require hospitalization, having only mild symptoms. These symptoms tend to last about a week and include fever, rash, joint pain, red eyes, and other flu-like symptoms.
It has also been determined that Zika can be transmitted through interchanging of bodily fluids, with sexual contact being the foremost method. Zika can cause severe birth defects such as microcephaly, a condition which causes underdevelopment of the brain, resulting in a smaller than normal head. This is the largest problem and biggest concern now associated with the Zika virus. In countries where Zika is most prevalent due to large numbers of the Aedes mosquito, health officials have even suggested that women try to avoid getting pregnant until more progress has been made to curtail the disease or develop a vaccine. This advice is considered ethically controversial by many medical professionals both within those countries and elsewhere. However, if you are a woman considering having a child and are concerned about Zika and other potential problems, a consultation with your doctor would be a good choice.
At the time of this writing, no one in the United States is thought to have contracted the Zika virus through a mosquito bite, and, so far, there has been only one reported case of virus acquisition through sexual contact. The remaining cases which have been reported are people who have traveled to countries where the Aedes mosquito is known to exist in comparatively larger numbers. However, caution is still recommended, and taking steps to reduce the chance of mosquito bites is considered wise. Using mosquito repellent when outdoors for long periods or where standing water exists is good advice, as mosquitoes are known to carry a plethora of other transmittable diseases.
If you live in Southeast Florida and are concerned that you may have been exposed to the Zika virus, GetMed Urgent Care has 3 locations to serve you, in Tamarac, Plantation, and Boca Raton. Our team of medical professionals will treat you like family, and hopefully set your mind at ease. If treatment is required, you’ll get the best care available.
I hope that the above discussion has served to bring some much needed light onto this issue.
Live well, be well, and enjoy life!