By Jacob Beniflah
By now you have undoubtedly heard from both patients and the media about Zika virus. The information out there can be confusing and contradictory. With the help of the CDC, we will give a general overview.
Zika virus is spread primarily by the Aedes species mosquito which is mostly a daytime biter but also bites at night. Active Zika virus transmission has been confirmed in all of North America (except Canada), Central America, South America and the Caribbean. The US has, as of 8/31, reported 35 locally spread cases (all in 2 areas of Miami-Dade country) and 2686 travel-associated cases.
Infection with Zika virus can be completely asymptomatic. If a patient shows symptoms they are usually mild and include fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis, muscle pain, and headaches. Most people will only have symptoms for a few days to a week. Long term effects include a known risk of birth defects. Currently, a strong association between Guillain-Barre and Zika virus is being researched but nothing is conclusive yet.
Zika virus should be suspected in an infant or child who has traveled or lived in an affected area within the past 2 weeks and have 2 or more of the following: fever, rash, conjunctivitis, or arthralgia.
Testing at this time is only done thru the Georgia Department of Health (GDH). CHOA does not do in-house testing and will send samples to the GDH. A provider wishing to send testing must first call the GDH’s Epidemiology section for an approval code. During the day call 404-657-2588 or after-hours at 770-578-4104.
There is no current treatment for Zika. Treatment is with standard supportive care but the CDC recommends avoiding NSAIDs such as aspirin or ibuprofen until Dengue has been ruled out.