Zika is back in the news, with the Rio Olympics, new cases in Miami, and virus fears in Puerto Rico.
Rio de Janeiro
Zika was one of the greater concerns before the Rio Olympics. Golfers and tennis players dropped out, claiming Zika fears. U.S. soccer goaltender Hope Solo tweeted a photo of her surrounded by insect repellent.
— Hope Solo (@hopesolo) July 22, 2016
Once the games started, it wasn’t an issue. “No one here (at least in the beaches of Rio) is concerned about Zika in the least,” wrote Nate Scott, a journalist with For the Win, a subsidiary of USA Today. “And I’ve seen like two mosquitoes since I’ve been here.” Data from the Pan American Health Organization showed almost no cases of the virus in Brazil in late July, and doctors in one hospital in the Copacabana beach area couldn’t remember one mosquito-borne illness since June, according to an Associated Press story. In fact, there’s only been one Zika story: Brazilians have been chanting “Zika” to mock Solo and other U.S. athletes during competition.
A trendy area of Miami is dealing with the first cases of home-hatched Zika in the United States. As of August 12, 2016, 28 people had been diagnosed with Zika. All but one contracted it within a one-square-mile area around the city’s Wynwood arts district. In response, the city performed aerial spraying for mosquitoes, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a travel advisory for pregnant women to avoid the Wynwood area. This was the first travel advisory the CDC has ever issued for the continental U.S. The continental U.S. already has seen at least 1,825 Zika cases, mostly related to travel abroad or sex with someone who traveled. A baby born in the Houston metro area died from complications from Zika. The baby’s mother caught the virus while traveling, according to a USA Today story.
Puerto Rico In Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, Zika has infected at least 10,690 people, including 1,035 pregnant women, according to a USA Today story. On August 12, the Obama administration declared a public health emergency, freeing money to help the territory fight the virus.
When it comes to mosquito-borne illnesses, Zika is not exactly the worst of the lot. Eighty percent of patients report no symptoms. It’s a public health concern because of its effects on unborn children. Still, compare Zika to malaria, which killed an estimated 438,000 people in 2015, according to the World Health Organization.
Since there is not yet a vaccine for Zika, the steps to prevent the virus are the steps to prevent any mosquito-borne illness.
Start by preventing mosquito bites, suggests the CDC. Spray an Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellent on exposed skin and clothes. The CDC says EPA-registered repellents are safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women when used as directed. Don’t use repellent containing lemon eucalyptus oil or para-methane-diol on children under three, and don’t use any insect repellent on babies younger than two months old.
In schools inside the affected area of Miami, children may wear long sleeved pants and shirts that don’t match school uniforms, but must apply repellent at home, in case some students have allergies to repellent. The CDC recommends all family members wear clothes that cover arms and legs, even in the heat. Also, cover baby strollers and carriers with mosquito netting. In North Miami, residents complained because broken storm drains contained standing water that mosquitoes breed in.
The CDC recommends people weekly empty, turn over, cover, or trash items that hold water, like bird baths, pools, tires and buckets. Also use screens on windows and doors and use air conditioning when possible.
If you have any type of sexual contact with someone who has been to a Zika-exposed area, use a condom or other barrier. If your partner is pregnant and you’ve been exposed to Zika, the CDC recommends avoiding any sexual contact for the pregnancy’s duration. Katadyn Hiker Microfilter Giveaway