Understanding Zika virus—what is it and what should we do?

Understanding Zika virus—what is it and what should we do?

Zika was first identified in 1947 in Uganda, and outbreaks have occurred in parts of the world such as Africa, Asia, and the Pacific Islands. The virus, carried by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito (pictured above), has stayed in the tropics and subtropics—but recently; Zika was recorded as being transmitted sexually in the United States. Like most mosquitoes, the Aedes Aegypti mosquito can be found near stagnant water including water found in shower stalls. Blood banks are asking people who have traveled in areas where the Zika virus is present to not donate blood for 28 days. There is no vaccine or medication to treat the Zika virus.

About one in five people exposed to Zika become symptomatic. The symptoms are fever, maculopapular rash (a flat red area on the skin with bumps), arthralgia and sometimes, conjunctivitis. There have also been reported cases of Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Symptoms can be treated by ensuring that our patients get plenty of rest, drink fluids and take Tylenol for fever and pain (do not give aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to pregnant women).

If you suspect a pregnant female has contracted the Zika virus, let your site medical director (SMD) know immediately so he/she can decide on the next steps, as there has been an increase in the number of babies born with microcephaly to mothers who have contracted the Zika virus. It is a notifiable condition, so the local health department must be informed.

If you have questions, please send your inquiries and questions to AskNursingDepartment@corizonhealth.com.