Dear UO Faculty, Students, and Staff,
A global watch is underway as the Zika virus has begun spreading throughout Central and South America and the Caribbean.
According to news reports, there have been 31 documented Zika cases in the U.S. (11 states and the District of Columbia), though in all of those cases people got infected elsewhere.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently issued travel guidance regarding this mosquito-borne virus, which is associated with microcephaly (small head and brain in newborns) and possibly other poor pregnancy outcomes in women infected during pregnancy.
About one in five people infected with Zika virus will develop symptoms, which include fever, rash, joint pain, and pink eye, and some have muscle aches, headache, and pain behind the eyes. The illness is usually mild, with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. The top concern is for pregnant women who get infected.
Efforts are underway to produce a vaccine, but there is currently no vaccine and no treatment for this virus; the only way to prevent infection is to avoid being bitten by infected mosquitos.
Because there is neither a vaccine nor prophylactic medications available to prevent Zika virus infection, CDC recommends that all pregnant women consider postponing travel to areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Pregnant women or women who are considering becoming pregnant who must travel to one of these areas should consult with their health care provider before traveling and follow steps to prevent mosquito bites:
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Use EPA-registered insect repellents as directed.
- Insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, and IR3535 are safe for pregnant and nursing women and children older than 2 months when used according to label.
- Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear (boots, pants, socks, tents).
- Stay and sleep in screened-in or air-conditioned rooms.
If you are pregnant and have traveled to a country reporting Zika, the CDC is recommending that you see your physician for counseling and testing. The CDC just released interim guidelines for pregnant women and their health care providers. Information and guidelines change frequently, so continue to check this CDC site if you are in an at-risk group. For general updated information on Zika, go to http://www.cdc.gov/zika/.
The University of Oregon will continue to monitor this global situation. Please let us know if you have additional questions or concerns.
Dr. Richard Brunader
Medical Director UO Health Center
Vice Provost for International Affairs