Chance of Zika Virus outbreak here ‘very small’

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By Tia Lynn Ivey

managing editor

Thirteen cases of the Zika Virus have been documented in the State of Georgia, prompting citizens to inquire of their local health departments if there is any cause for concern. The Morgan County Health Department discussed the virus at Monday’s quarterly meeting.

According to Dr. Lou Kudon, a program manager for the Northeast Health District, the chances of a full-blown Zika Virus outbreak in Georgia is extremely low. 

“The chances that the Zika Virus gets established in this country are very small,” said Kudon, who noted that all 13 cases in Georgia were among people who had travelled outside of the country.

Kudon explained that the virus is unlikely to take hold in the United States because of the way it is spread, primarily through certain mosquitos that require an animal host to pick up the disease.

“The mosquitoes here don’t have any place to pick up the virus. They need an animal host to pick it up from and we don’t have primates wandering around here in the U.S.,” said Kudon. “And the ones who do pick it up cannot pass it along to their offspring. So the risk here is very low.”

According to the CDC, the “Zika virus disease (Zika) is a disease caused by the Zika virus, which is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected.”

According to the Center for Disease Control, the disease poses the highest risk to the elderly and pregnant woman. In pregnant women, the Zika virus can cause microcephaly in a forming fetus, which is a birth defect where a baby’s head is smaller than expected, possibly with underdeveloped brains.

The disease can also be spread sexually. Kudon recommended waiting 8 to 9 weeks to become pregnant if you or someone you are sexually involved with has travelled out of the country recently, especially to South America or India.

Kudon also recommended decreasing mosquito population near your homes by eliminating all standing water and debris from around your property. For more tips on how to control mosquitos, visit: dph.georgia.gov/zika.

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