How to tackle the Zika virus, tips to your safety

Have you been feeling symptoms of a fever, rash, joint pains, red eye and have recently traveled to a foreign country? 

This is not WebMD assuming your symptoms are signs of cancer, but there is a chance you could be affected by the Zika virus.

 The Zika virus, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is “a disease caused by the spread from person to person primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito.” In other words, you should not worry unless you could have potentially been bitten by that specific mosquito. 

This virus was first discovered in 1947 in the Zika Forest in Uganda and eventually spread to Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. The World Health Organization announced the severity of the Zika virus on Feb. 1, 2016, and established a public health concern.

 You may think just because you have not traveled to the affected areas, you are safe from the virus. Wrong. Zika disease does not make itself evident instantly and that is why the disease scares people. The idea of not having complete reassurance of being safe from the disease until made absolutely certain is incredibly scary. Other than by mosquito bite, the virus can be spread sexually and by the transmission of blood from one infected person to a healthy person. Women who are affected by this while pregnant are at a high risk for birth defects in their children such as an abnormally small head at birth.

 Unfortunately, there are no existing vaccines that prevent the Zika virus, but there are enough precautions to take while traveling. For instance, wearing clothes that cover the majority of your skin, staying in air conditioned places and wearing appropriate insect repellent are all good precautions to take.

 This may not seem as serious as previous worldwide disease breakouts, but something does need to be done to prevent more complications from occurring. The Zika virus will continue to be spread by spring breakers from around the nation heading down south if the urgency of this disease is not picked up on.

 I would suggest that to ensure more lives are not affected, greater precautions should be made. This means travel needs to be more strictly regulated and only the most necessary trips to severely affected areas should be made. According to fitfortravel.com, it is highly recommended that travelers should, “seek travel advice from a health care provider at least 6-8 weeks in advance of travel.” As this disease continues to be featured on worldwide news, more people are being made aware and are decreasing their chances of being affected and are not traveling to areas of outbreak.

 As for those of you who decided to travel to the southern states for spring break, especially those such as Texas with a reported 19 cases or Florida with 49 travel-associated cases reported, and have experienced some of the symptoms, it would be in your best interest to get tested. Although, fortunately, so far there have been no locally acquired cases.

 Next time you plan on traveling to severely affected areas, think otherwise and save yourself from the harmful dangers associated with the Zika virus.

 

Lauren Kremer is a HDFS major at SDSU and can be reached at [email protected]