Information from University Health Services Regarding the Zika Virus
Dear Members of the BC Community:
I write to inform you of the Zika virus, which has gained significant attention in the media.The Zika virus, which is spread through mosquito bites, is a flu-like illness that causes fever, body aches, rash, and headaches. The symptoms usually last a few days and are self-limited. There is no treatment other than supportive care and symptomatic medications. Hospitalizations or serious sequelae are rare. Of importance is that only approximately 20 to 25% of people infected are symptomatic. There is no established vaccine for the virus.
The infection is spread by mosquitos that bite during the day, so protection during the day as well as from dusk to dawn is advised in affected areas. Recent evidence indicates that the virus can be transmitted though infected blood or sexual contact (via saliva and semen). It can also be spread from a pregnant woman to her unborn baby. There have been reports of a severe birth defect of the brain called microcephaly and other serious pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant. For pregnant women (at any trimester) or women who are trying to or could be pregnant, the CDC recommendations are not to travel to areas where the virus has been reported. To view the Zika pregnancy interim guidelines visit CDC’s Zika Travel Notices (http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-travel-information ). For an updated list of countries and territories with active Zika virus transmission and travel advisories, visit: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/ and http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-travel-information
As with many viral epidemics, the situation remains fluid. University Health Services will provide updated advice and recommendations to the BC community as more information becomes available.
CDC recommendations for protection can be found athttp://www.cdc.gov/zika/prevention/index.html
Dr. Tom Nary
University Health Services