Does the Zika Virus Matter to You?

You have probably heard of the Zika Virus in the news recently. This virus is spread by the mosquito bite as some other viruses are. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) list “the most common symptoms of Zika Virus as:

• Rash
• Fever
• Joint Pain
• Conjunctivitis (red eyes)”

The CDC describes this illness as “usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.” If that is true why should this virus matter to most of us? It matters to all of us because the virus is spread by the mosquito bite. So someone with the virus can spread the virus by getting bit by mosquitos. Like most other mosquito-borne viruses Zika can spread quickly. The danger is for women who are pregnant because the virus may cause deformities in unborn children.

The CDC describes this illness as “usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.” If that is true why should this virus matter to most of us? It matters to all of us because the virus is spread by the mosquito bite. So someone with the virus can spread the virus by getting bit by mosquitos. Like most other mosquito-borne viruses Zika can spread quickly. The danger is for women who are pregnant because the virus may cause deformities in unborn children.

To help slow down the spread of this virus the CDC has issued Travel Warnings at Alert Level 2, Practice Enhanced Precautions at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-travel-information. Other countries have since been added. Mosquitos with this virus live “mostly in tropical atmospheres, and in the United States is most common in humid, hot climates in Texas and Puerto Rico” (Breitbart, 2015). However, another article in Science News notes that “researchers reported the discovery of a significant population of the mosquito species capable of carrying tropical diseases such as Zika virus in a Capitol Hill neighborhood in Washington, D.C. To add insult to injury, the team identified genetic evidence that these mosquitoes have overwintered for at least the past four years, meaning they are adapting for persistence in a northern climate well out of their normal range.” The problem appears to be growing beyond the hot and humid areas. This will increase the probability that these mosquitos could impact more people.

There is no vaccine for this virus; however, with mosquitos adapting in highly populated areas the work on a vaccine will increase. It is critical that we all understand how this virus is spread. The virus is passed from person to person through mosquito bites. The virus remains in a victim’s blood for several days. Because of this, a person with Zika Virus is told to avoid mosquito bites for the first week of their illness.

“Mosquitoes like water and can be found in and around water sources. They prefer stagnant water and will make a home in an old flower pot, tire, hole, or bucket. Once they find a home they breed to their hearts content. Using repellents and eliminating sources of stagnant water can help keep the population down.” (Fort, 2015)

If you have workers in locations that are hot and humid take the following steps:

• Provide repellents to workers to use.
• Prevent breeding areas for mosquitos.
• Encourage workers to stay home for one week after they get the virus.
• Conduct a risk assessment before sending any workers to the countries listed by the CDC with travel warnings.
• Do not send pregnant workers or workers who live in a home with a pregnant woman travel to areas that have a hazard of the virus.

The U.S. is offering to remove pregnant employees from the affected areas. This will be a continuous option (Zika, 2015).

Bibliography:

Breitbart News, Zika: Three Cases in NYC as WHO Warns Virus Likely to Spread Across Americas Retrieved from http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2016/01/25/zika-virus-2/.

Center for Disease Control, Zika Virus. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/zika/.

Fort Leonard Wood Guidon, Missouri outdoors can translate to great ‘ouch’ doors. Retrieved from http://www.myguidon.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=6413

Science News, Mosquitoes capable of carrying Zika virus found in Washington, D. C. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160126091523.htm.

Zika Virus: U.S. Military Offering to Ship Pregnant Employees out of Affected Areas. Retrieved from http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2016/01/28/zika-virus-u-s-military-in-americas-stressing-personal-protective-measures-for-dod-personnel/

About Fred Fanning Author

Fred Fanning spent over 20 years in the safety profession. His final safety position was as the Director of Occupational Safety and Health for the U.S. Department of Commerce. He began writing in 1994, published his first book in 1998, and began writing professionally in 2015. He has authored and coauthored articles, written books, and chapters for technical books and stories for anthologies.
This entry was posted in Hazard Control and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s