Hendry County residents advised to take precautions to protect their families from Zika virus

With the discovery of 15 cases of the Zika virus that are believed to have been contracted through mosquito bites in the Miami area, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) is encouraging everyone to take precautions against mosquito-borne illness.
DOH believes that active transmissions of the Zika virus are still only occurring in Miami-Dade County. This remains the only area of the state where DOH has confirmed there are ongoing local transmissions of Zika. Among the 10 new individuals announced Monday, six are asymptomatic and were identified from the door-to-door community survey that DOH is conducting. One new case was announced Wednesday, outside of the neighborhood where the first cases were found, but still in Miami-Dade.
DOH has conducted testing for the Zika virus for more than 2,300 people statewide. Since DOH began their investigation into possible local transmissions of Zika on July 7, more than 200 individuals in Miami-Dade and Broward counties have been tested for the virus who live or work near the individuals that have already been confirmed with likely mosquito-borne transmissions.
To help answer questions from the public, the FDOH released the following information.
What is Zika fever?
Zika fever is a mild illness caused by a mosquito-borne virus similar to those that cause dengue and chikungunya virus infection. It has been identified in several countries in Central and South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean since 2015. Outbreaks have previously been reported in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. Local transmission has been reported in Puerto Rico, but not elsewhere in the United States. Cases of Zika fever have been reported in travelers returning to the United States. Zika virus is not transmitted person-to-person.

Is Zika virus illness contagious?
Zika is primarily transmitted by mosquito bite. Transmission through sexual contact is possible; however, we still have limited knowledge about this form of transmission.
The best way to avoid Zika fever is to prevent mosquito bites. The best preventive measures are to Drain standing water to prevent mosquito breeding around your home or business, Cover doors and windows with screens to keep mosquitoes outside of homes and Cover skin with clothing or mosquito repellent to prevent mosquito bites.

How is Zika virus transmitted?
Zika virus is primarily transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito, including the same mosquitoes that can transmit dengue and chikungunya. It can also be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth. It is unknown how often this occurs or what stage of pregnancy is most at risk. In addition, Zika virus can be present in semen and transmitted through sexual activity.

Who is at risk of being infected?
Anyone who is living in or traveling to an area where Zika virus is found who has not already been infected with Zika virus is at risk for infection, including pregnant women.
What are the symptoms of Zika virus infection?
Only about 1 in 5 people infected with Zika virus are symptomatic. Zika fever is a mild illness. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon. Signs and symptoms of Zika virus may include: acute onset of low-grade fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis (reddening of eye), body aches, headache, eye pain and vomiting.

Can I get the Zika virus if I am bitten by a mosquito that bit someone who has Zika virus?
The correct species of mosquito would need to bite an infected person in the few days that person had the Zika virus present in their blood. There are one or two types of mosquitoes known to be of concern in Florida, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus.

Why do people say that pregnant mothers should be aware of this virus?
The Ministry of Health of Brazil has reported an increase in the numbers of newborns with microcephaly as well as other poor pregnancy outcomes in areas experiencing Zika virus outbreaks. The CDC is conducting research to further characterize the relationship between Zika virus and poor pregnancy outcomes. More studies are planned to learn more about the risks of Zika virus infection during pregnancy. There are many causes of microcephaly in babies, including genetic abnormalities.

How can I protect myself and my family?
The Florida Department of Health encourages Florida residents and visitors to protect themselves from all mosquito-borne illnesses by draining standing water; covering their skin with repellent and clothing; covering windows with screens; and other basic precautions.
DRAIN standing water to stop mosquitoes from multiplying
• Drain water from garbage cans, house gutters, buckets, pool covers, coolers, toys, flower pots or any other containers where sprinkler or rain water has collected.
• Discard old tires, drums, bottles, cans, pots and pans, broken appliances and other items that aren’t being used.
• Empty and clean birdbaths and pet’s water bowls at least once or twice a week.
• Protect boats and vehicles from rain with tarps that don’t accumulate water.
• Maintain swimming pools in good condition and appropriately chlorinated. Empty plastic swimming pools when not in use.
COVER skin with clothing or repellent
• CLOTHING – Wear shoes, socks, and long pants and long-sleeves. This type of protection may be necessary for people who must work in areas where mosquitoes are present.
• REPELLENT – Apply mosquito repellent to bare skin and clothing. Always use repellents according to the label. Repellents with DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, and IR3535 are effective. Use mosquito netting to protect children younger than 2 months old.
• COVER doors and windows with screens to keep mosquitoes out of your house
• Repair broken screening on windows, doors, porches, and patios.

The Zika Virus Information Hotline is 1-855-622-6735.

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