The Zika epidemic- UPDATE February 4, 2016

The Zika pandemic:  

The major development since our first posting was the report of a case of Zika virus infecting a person via sexual contact with another person with Zika virus infection.


This event changes the chances of getting the Zika virus infection.  Until yesterday, it was thought it could only happen via a mosquito bite in areas of the world the mosquitoes carrying Zika virus live and are very active, currently tropical Americas.  

Now the possibility of catching the virus from a sexual partner has developed.  We do not know if this is an extremely rare happening, or common, or anywhere in between.  But it has happened so it is very likely to happen again, we just don't know how often.

It still remains the case that by far the gravest danger posed by the Zika virus is to developing babies.

This means only pregnant women are a great risk from the infection, because only if a pregnant woman gets infected can the developing baby be harmed.

Our observations and recommendations remain largely unchanged, but for the consideration of partners traveling to the tropical Americas, Samoa, and the Cape Verde Islands.

For any woman who might even possibly become pregnant, it is important that if their partner travels to the tropical Americas, Samoa, and the Cape Verde Islands that they be sure their partner did not get a Zika virus infection during the trip.  This turns out to be impossible to know without testing, as 80% of adults infected develop no symptoms.    There are tests, though that can be done.

The incubation period of the infection is 1-7 days, so your partner could get the infection 1-7 days after being bitten by a mosquito in the tropical Americas, Samoa, or the Cape Verde Islands.

The blood banks are accepting blood after 28 days after a person leaves a Zika active area, so the risk of transmitting the virus is likely to have passed after 28 days.

We recommend that if you are a woman who has any chance of becoming pregnant with a partner who has traveled to the tropical Americas, Samoa, or the Cape Verde Islands, that you abstain until your partner has been tested and determined to be free of Zika virus infection.  This should be done under medical guidance.   It is helpful to know that simply waiting 28 days, as far as we know today, should be sufficient to be safe.

1.  A virus long dormant in Africa spread to French Polynesia in 2007, and now is exploding across the tropical Americas, the Zika virus.
2.  In adults, the vast majority of infected people either don't get sick at all or have mild symptoms.
3.  Less commonly, adults can get significant pain in muscles and joints.
4.  Adults with the infection can have the neurologic complication of Guillan-Barre syndrome which is typically transient.
5.  The most disturbing aspect of the Zika virus is its ability to infect babies of pregnant women and cause damage to brain development.
6.  Adults and children need to weigh the risk of serious infection if they plan to travel to tropical Americas, Samoa, and Cape Verde Islands.  The risk is low.
7.  Pregnant women should know that traveling to tropical Americas, Samoa, and Cape Verde Islands could be catastrophic for their developing baby.
8.  If a woman who even may become pregnant has a partner who has traveled to the  tropical Americas, Samoa, or Cape Verde Islands, she should abstain from sexual contact until her partner is proven to be not infected.

The main point is that no one in Ohio can currently, or is likely ever to, catch Zika virus while in Ohio, except through sexual contact with an infected partner.  Adults traveling to Zika areas are at low risk.  Pregnant women face real danger to their babies if they travel to Zika active areas.  Given that it can be transmitted sexually, women who even may become pregnant must take precautions if their partner travels to Zika active areas.

To your health,
Dr. Arthur Lavin

*Disclaimer* The comments contained in this electronic source of information do not constitute and are not designed to imply that they constitute any form of individual medical advice. The information provided is purely for informational purposes only and not relevant to any person's particular medical condition or situation. If you have any medical concerns about yourself or your family please contact your physician immediately. In order to provide our patients the best uninfluenced information that science has to offer,we do not accept samples of drugs, advertising tchotchkes, money, food, or any item from outside vendors.

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