WARSAW — Travel-associated Zika infection is on the rise in the United States and one case has been reported in the Hoosier state.
According to a press release from the Indiana State Department of Health, with confirmation from the Center for Disease Control, Feb. 9, marked the first case of the Zika virus in Indiana. The individual was a non-pregnant resident who had recently traveled to Haiti. State officials stated the infection was not severe enough to require hospitalization.
According to the release, State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H., said “the health department is providing guidance to local health officials and providers in anticipation of additional travel-related cases in Indiana.”
Here’s what you need to know about the Zika virus: It is transmitted to people primarily through a bite from an infected mosquito, but has been recently found to also be transmitted through sexual contact. The most common symptoms of the virus are fever, malaise and rash. The illness runs its course within a few days to a week.
According to Dr. William Remington Jr., health officer for the Kosciusko County Health Department, many people infected do not even realize they are infected. The CDC reports that approximately one in five people infected with the virus become ill.
When asked why the virus has caused panic in the U.S., Remington noted though most people do not realize they have contracted the virus, the rising cases of microcephaly among infected pregnant women in Brazil has raised both national and public concern. Microcephaly is an uncommon birth defect causing a baby’s brain to not fully develop during gestation.
Last year Brazil had it’s first confirmed Zika virus infection. Increased reports of the infection began to spread across the country. With the rise of Zika infections also came the rise of reports of newborns with microcephaly.
Since October 2015, there has been 4,000 babies born with the birth defect. According to the CDC microcephaly has increased to approximately 10 times higher contraction rates then what Brazil normally sees annually. Even with these numbers, there has been no proven definitive link between Zika causing microcephaly, as exposure to toxic substances and genetic abnormalities also have been known to cause the condition.
Because the virus is spreading at an alarming rate, the CDC activated it’s Emergency Operations Center Jan. 22. The EOC is the headquarters for bringing scientists together to find answers to medical emergency situations, such as the Zika outbreak. They also conduct the rapid transfer of life-saving medications and medical personnel within hours of those who request help. As of Feb. 8, the EOC’s activation is at the highest level.
In the United States, there have been 52 travel-associated Zika infections and no locally acquired cases as of Feb. 10. Thus far, there is no vaccine or medication to prevent or treat Zika.
Women who are pregnant or trying to conceive should reconsider traveling to high-outbreak regions. Men who have, or are, planning to travel to these regions should either abstain from sexual activity or use condoms for an undetermined amount of time, as the virus seems to survive longer in semen than blood.
Other preventative measures against the Zika Virus are:
- Use Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellents.
- Look for products containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535 as the active ingredients.
- Where long-sleeved shirts and pants.
- Stay in air-conditioned areas or use screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.
If the virus is contracted, the only treatment so far is to drink fluids to prevent dehydration, get plenty of rest, take over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce fever and pain. Do not take aspirin or other non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (Ibuprofen is a NSAID and should not be taken).