As the weather warms up, the threat of the Zika virus spreading throughout the US and is a growing concern. Doctors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced this week that the Zika virus outbreak is "scarier than they thought."

The Zika virus has been linked to birth defects in babies in many areas, including Puerto Rico, Mexico, Brazil, and more.  The CDC has issued an alert to  pregnant women to avoid travel to these areas and others. The mosquito that carries the virus is in 30 U.S. states but it has yet to be determined in our state. Mosquitoes that spread Zika virus bite mostly during the daytime. Officials from the NJ department of health say they do not expect a Zika outbreak in New Jersey, but it is always good to be prepared. Not everyone who gets infected will feel ill but some may experience fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes. The symptoms are usually mild and last only a few days but you should contact your healthcare provider if any of these symptoms become severe.  In addition to preventing mosquito bites, the CDC also recommends avoiding  contact and unprotected sex with someone who has the Zika virus.

How to prevent mosquito bites

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Stay in places with air conditioning and window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
  • Use insects repellents approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. with  DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or para-menthane-diol. Always follow the product label instructions. Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old.
  • Treat clothing and gear with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated items
  • Do NOT use permethrin products on skin directly.

If you are returning to the United States from an area where ZIka is prevalent, you should do your best to prevent mosquito bites for several weeks even if you do not feel ill. This will help prevent the spread of Zika to mosquitoes that could spread the virus to other people.

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