An overview of the illness
02/12/2016

Feb. 12, 2016

Rider University is partnering with the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) and other public health officials to educate our campus communities about the Zika virus.  This is particularly important for students, faculty and staff who are considering travel to impacted areas.

OVERVIEW

Zika virus is a growing concern in the Caribbean and Central and South Americas where outbreaks have occurred.  The illness is spread primarily through mosquito bites but cases have been reported of transmission through blood transfusion and sexual contact. 

Only 20% of infected people develop symptoms, which are usually mild. The most common symptoms are fever, headache, rash, joint and muscle pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes).  Symptoms typically begin two to seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito and usually last from several days to a week. Pregnant women are most at risk due to the strong link between Zika and microcephaly, a congenital condition resulting in smaller brains and heads than usual.

ZIKA VIRUS IN NEW JERSEY

While several cases of the Zika virus have been detected in the United States — including one in New Jersey — they involved individuals who traveled to an affected country.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the one travel-related case in New Jersey just before Christmas 2015. The individual was exposed in Colombia where she lives and works and where she has since returned after recovering fully. 

According to the NJDOH, New Jersey does not expect to see outbreaks such as those ongoing in the Caribbean and Central and South America but the Department remains vigilant as the situation evolves. There are no mosquitoes carrying the virus in the U.S. at this time.

TRAVEL GUIDANCE

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued interim travel guidance for 30 countries to date: Jamaica, Tonga, American Samoa, Costa Rica, Curacao, Nicaragua, United States Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Cape Verde, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Martin, Samoa, Suriname, and Venezuela.

Because specific areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing and difficult to determine, and likely to change over time, the CDC will update this travel notice as information becomes available.  Check the CDC’s Zika Travel Information website frequently for the most up-to-date recommendations: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-travel-information or learn more about protecting yourself from mosquito bites (PDF).

TREATMENT AND PROTECTION

There is no vaccine or medicine to treat Zika. Mosquito bites remain the primary way Zika virus is transmitted, though spread of the virus through blood transfusion and sexual contact have been reported.  

When traveling to countries where viruses have been reported, the best protections are insect repellent, long sleeves and pants, and places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens. 

The best course of action for someone diagnosed with Zika is rest, fluids, and acetaminophen or paracetamol to reduce fever and pain. Aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are discouraged.

This is not a huge risk in the winter, right?

  • There are currently no mosquitoes carrying the virus in the U.S.
  • Based on NJDOH experience with other illnesses that cause similar symptoms, New Jersey does not expect to see outbreaks such as those ongoing in the Caribbean and Central and South America.
  • This is an evolving situation that NHDOH is taking very seriously by working with our partners to spread awareness.

I am pregnant. Should I travel to a country where cases of Zika have been reported?

  • Until more is known, the CDC recommends special precautions for pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant.
  • Pregnant women in any trimester should consider postponing travel to the areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Pregnant women who do travel to these areas should talk to their doctor or other health care provider first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip.
  • Women trying to become pregnant or who are thinking about becoming pregnant should consult with their health care provider before traveling to these areas and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during the trip.
  • For more information about Zika virus and pregnancy, visit http://www.cdc.gov/zika/pregnancy/question-answers.html.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES FOR ZIKA INFORMATION

NJ Department of Health’s Communicable Disease Service page with FAQs and infographics in English, Spanish, and Portuguese:
http://www.nj.gov/health/cd/zika/index.shtml

Follow the NJ Department of Health on social media:

Center for Disease Control and Prevention:
http://www.cdc.gov/zika/