Thinking of spending the Holidays in Florida? Make sure you're prepared for Zika

 Experts say Zika virus is being spread by mosquitoes around Miami, Florida. The Aedes aegypti mosquito, known for transmitting the virus, can be found in south Florida because of its warm climate. The Miami area also sees a high volume of travelers from countries where the Zika outbreak is ongoing. These two factors are putting pregnant women and their partners at the greatest risk. How can pregnant women and their partners stay protected? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have put together recommendations for pregnant women and their partners.

What do you need to know about Zika? Dr. Mia Taormina, an infectious disease doctor, shares these updates.

If I’m planning to visit Florida - what should I be concerned about, and how can I prepare?

There have been some areas in Florida listed as high risk. Women who are pregnant and women and their partners desiring to become pregnant should avoid travel to these areas. Any woman who is pregnant and has traveled to these areas after the dates above should be tested. Those traveling should wear long clothing, use mosquito repellents containing at least 40% DEET, and limit outdoor daytime activities. At this time there are no travel advisories for other locations in Florida, including Disney theme parks, or for other Southern states. Stay tuned.

What can we expect to see?

Over the past several months the virus itself has not changed, but we have now seen local transmission in the state of Florida. This means that there are cases of active transmission in Florida currently in persons that have not traveled to other endemic areas outside of the United States and who have not sexually acquired Zika from a partner who has recently traveled. The Aedes species mosquito responsible for transmission of the virus lives in the Southern U.S. and we had anticipated there would be some cases of local transmission this season.

Has the virus changed more than experts expected? How long will this go on?

The virus itself hasn’t changed, but what we know about it, it is evolving. We now know there is significant risk to an unborn fetus if the pregnant mother is exposed. We also know that there are risks of other severe neurologic complications in rare cases. Experts anticipate this outbreak should die down around the summer of 2018. It is believed there will be so many affected individuals at that time which have developed “immunity” that the spread to new individuals will be limited in a sort of herd immunity manner. We also anticipate seeing a dip in cases as warmer temperatures give way to cooler weather as the seasons change, especially in the U.S.

For the most current information on the Zika virus visit :

Sources: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
https://www.cdc.gov/zika/intheus/florida-update.html

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