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Zika Virus: Prevention Starts with Communication


Florida Governor Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency in multiple Florida counties due to the diagnosed cases of the Zika virus. The Zika virus is a potential threat not just in Florida but throughout the country. Currently those who contract the virus only experience mild symptoms for a week, but it is potentially dangerous to pregnant women in that it is associated with birth defects. Experts state that the best way to prevent an outbreak is a proactive effort in communicating from the local level. Here’s what you can do to get the word out in your communities:

PREVENT SPREAD

Zika virus is mainly spread through mosquito bites, but can also be transmitted sexually. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has guidelines on bite prevention and sexual transmission prevention on its web page. The best way to easily share this information is to download one of the CDC’s bite prevention fact sheets and share it with your citizens.

FOLLOW CDC TRAVEL NOTICES

The World Health Organization recently declared Zika a global public health emergency.  The CDC regularly updates its travel notices, and disseminating these notices to the public can be a key focus of any local public health.

GET TESTED

Citizens that contract Zika can stop the spread by avoiding others after the first week of illness.  Informing citizens about where to get tested and the importance of testing is a great tool for preventing a mass outbreak. Learn more about virus testing here

KEEP UPDATED

Make sure your health departments and citizens are following the latest developments.  An easy way to do this is to monitor National Association of County & City Health Officials (NACCHO) ongoing Zika coverage. AARP recently published an article discussing the virus’s impact on older adults

 
Update 04/04/2016

Recently released resources and information regarding the Zika virus:

1. Zika Virus Stats as of 03/30/2016 (via CDC):

  • Travel-associated Zika virus disease cases reported: 312
  • Locally acquired vector-borne cases reported: 0
  • Of the 312 cases reported, 27 were pregnant women, 6 were sexually transmitted, and 1 had Guillain-Barré syndrome.

2. CDC Fact Sheet on Testing for Pregnant Women Living in an Area with Zika (04/01/2016).

3. NACCHO: The Perfect Storm—Climate Change and Zika Virus Disease.

4. Scientific American: Zika Vaccine Could Solve One Problem While Stoking AnotherGrowing concerns about a Zika-autoimmune disease link are casting a shadow over vaccine development.

5. CDC hosts one day Zika Summit on 04/01/2016:

  • 425 local, state, and federal health officials and experts in maternal medicine and mosquito control spent the day at CDC headquarters getting the latest updates and sharing ideas.
  • Learn what took place during the summit by exploring #ZikaSummit.

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Douglas Shontz

Knowledge Network Research and Content Development Associate