A Zika Virus Q&A: What Do We Know Now?
Posted by J. Leocadia Conlon, MPH, PA-CComment

Conlon_pa_pro2According to CDC, there are 1.5 million confirmed cases of Zika infection in Brazil, 5,800 reported cases of microcephaly, and more than 1,700 reported cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome, that may or may not be associated with Zika infection. The March 2016 issue of PA Professional features a Q&A to help guide PAs in advising their patients about the Zika virus.

How is Zika virus transmitted?

A bite from an Aedes aegypti mosquito is the primary mechanism for infection. Aedes aegypti mosquitos bite in the morning hours, evening hours and at night, both indoors and outdoors.

What is the risk to the fetus in a woman infected with Zika virus during pregnancy?

There is insufficient data to quantify the risk of fetal birth defects for a woman who is infected by Zika during pregnancy. CDC suggests that pregnant women in any trimester consider postponing travel to areas of active Zika virus. While data is still limited, in regard to future pregnancies, experts suggest that there is little to no risk for fetal defects if a woman is infected with Zika virus more than four weeks prior to conception. The CDC now has patient information on pregnancy and Zika. Download it here.

What do we know about Zika infections in the United States?

As of March 12, 2016, a total of 35 Zika infections have been reported in the United States, American Samoa, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. There have been 193 reported cases in the U.S., 13 in American Samoa, 160 in Puerto Rico and one in the U.S. Virgin Islands. All cases in the U.S. have been travel-associated, but most cases in American Samoa, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are locally acquired. Of the states with Zika infections, larger numbers of cases are reported in Florida, Texas and New York. Of concern is that the Aedes aegypti mosquito is more prevalent in Texas and Florida. As travel-associated cases increase, there is the potential for spreading of the virus among the mosquito population, which increases the risk for indigenous cases in the U.S. Visit the CDC website for the most up to date information about Zika infections in the U.S.

What should clinicians be looking for, who should be tested, and what is the appropriate follow-up?

Symptomatic disease is usually mild and symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis, which can occur up to 14 days after the mosquito bite.

Read the full Q&A from the March issue of PA Professional here.


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