The Zika Virus in Puerto Rico: The latest info

The Zika virus hits Puerto Rico

Updated 1/25/2016

Brazil is currently experiencing an outbreak of the dangerous Zika virus, with more than a million cases since the beginning of 2015. International researchers suspect the virus is responsible for a surge in babies born with microcephaly (abnormally small heads); nearly 4,000 since October of 2015. Researchers have not directly linked the Zika virus to microcephaly in infants, but are making progress in identifying the virus in known cases.

In December, 2015, the first case of the Zika virus was detected in Puerto Rico by a resident with no known travel history outside the island. Since then, the Puerto Rico Department of Health has been working with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to determine how the virus was contracted.

This mosquito-born virus is very rarely deadly. Most people (approximately 80%) don’t experience symptoms. Those that do experience a rash and flu-like symptoms. There is no vaccine or treatment available to those who contract the virus. 

The CDC issued a travel notice advising people living in Puerto Rico and traveling to the island to take additional precautions to protect themselves from mosquito bites.

Precautions should also be taken to protect against similar diseases, dengue fever and chikungunya, currently at Watch Level 1 in Puerto Rico.

Likely to Spread

The World Health Organization warns against spread of the virus to places that have mosquitos, in particular the Aedes mosquito, which are found in every county but Canada and Chile. 

In a statement, The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the regional office of the WHO, said: “PAHO anticipates that Zika virus will continue to spread and will likely reach all countries and territories of the region where Aedes mosquitoes are found.”

 What is the Zika Virus?

Originally identified in 1947 in the Zika forests of Uganda is transmitted primarily through mosquito bites. Outbreaks have occurred throughout tropical regions of the world, including Africa, South America, Central America, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands.

Officials are predicting the virus will affect states in the southern US later in 2016.

Some small studies have suggested Zika can also be sexually transmitted, with infected men transmitting the virus to their partner.

What are Zika symptoms?

Zika symptoms are usually mild and only affect one in five people. They include a fever with a rash, joint pain or red eyes. Symptoms can last from several days to a week. After infection, people are suspected of having lifelong immunity. Deaths are rare and hospitalization in uncommon. The incubation period for the virus is up to 12 days and is usually gone from your system in 21 days. Health care providers should be contacted if you suspect you have contracted the virus.

Zika and pregnancy

Zika may be linked to abnormalities, intellectual disabilities and development delays if the virus is transmitted to a fetus during pregnancy. Microcephaly is a congenital condition associated with incomplete brain development in babies and characterized by a small an abnormally-shaped head. Babies born with the condition have a short life expectancy. The CDC is warning pregnant women not to travel to Zika-affected areas and to take precaution against mosquito bites.

If you suspect you have the virus and are trying to get pregnant, it is advised that you wait until the full virus cycle is over (21 days or more) to conceive.

What is the latest news about Zika in Puerto Rico?

Currently, Puerto Rico has one known case of the Zika virus, and has issued an Alert – Level 2 to practice Ehanced Precautions to protect against transmitting the virus. For the latest updates, check the CDC Puerto Rico page. Also visit Department de Salud Puerto Rico for specific information in Spanish. 

How do I protect myself from the Zika virus?

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Mosquito Protection Basics

  • Wear loose clothing that covers your arms and legs
  • Wear mosquito repellent
  • Don’t bother with electric bug zappers–they mainly kill moths
  • Mosquitoes are the worst in the early evening and mornings
  • Mosquitoes are more prevalent near standing water, after rain, and near overgrown brush
  • Clear away any items that hold pooling water from around your home

Mosquito Control DIY

Low-Cost Mosquito Control

camping puerto rico

kids Chikungunya

 

Big Ticket Mosquito Control

These may cost more, but if you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors enjoying your yard, they are a necessity! Note: Amazon will not ship these items to Puerto Rico. Contact the manufacturer directly.

mosquito control

We hope you found our list useful and have some great products and ideas to control mosquitos in your home!

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