Ruth Carrico, Ph.D., R.N., associate professor of infectious disease at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, clinical director of the Vaccine and International Travel Center, and founding associate director of the Global Health Initiative, is available to discuss the Zika virus and its potential impact in the United States and Louisville.
What is Zika and why are people concerned about it?
Zika, a virus transmitted by mosquitoes, has been increasing in frequency in Central and South America over the past several months. The symptoms of Zika are mild and include fever, rash, joint pain or red eyes, but often individuals have no symptoms and do not even know they are infected. For women who have been infected while they are pregnant, however, the disease has been linked to an increased risk of the birth defect microcephaly. In microcephaly, the baby’s head is much smaller than expected and often the brain fails to fully develop. The virus also has been associated with Guillain-Barre syndrome in individuals who have been infected.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a travel alert related to the virus for 24 regions and countries in Central and South America, the Caribbean, Mexico and Cape Verde off the western coast of Africa. The Level 2 alert advises travelers to take extra precautions to protect themselves from mosquito bites.
Cases of Zika have been reported in the United States, but so far, all of those individuals were believed to be infected while traveling outside the country.
There is no vaccine to protect against the Zika virus.
Carrico can address the following questions and others:
–Who should be concerned about Zika? Is it just a problem for travelers?
-What should travelers do to avoid contracting Zika?
-How can we help ensure it doesn’t become a problem in the United States and in Louisville?
-How do you tell if you or someone in your family may have the virus, and what should you do if you think you may have been exposed?
-How can you prevent getting the Zika virus?