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5 prevention tips to protect against Zika virus

By Ruchi Upadhyay 
Updated Date

Zika virus: Zika virus is an arthropod-borne flavivirus transmitted by mosquitoes. The virus is related to other flaviviruses including dengue virus, yellow fever virus, and West Nile virus. Clinical manifestations of Zika virus infection occur in approximately 20 percent of patients and include acute onset of low-grade fever with maculopapular pruritic rash, arthralgia (notably small joints of hands and feet), or conjunctivitis (nonpurulent).

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Neurotropism of Zika virus has been demonstrated in vivo and in vitro. Zika virus infection has been associated with neurologic complications; these include congenital microcephaly (in addition to other developmental problems among babies born to women infected during pregnancy), Guillain-Barré syndrome, myelitis, and meningoencephalitis.

There is no vaccine to protect against the Zika virus. But you can take steps to reduce your risk of exposure to the virus.

If you or your partner is pregnant or trying to get pregnant, these tips may help lower your risk of Zika virus infection:

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* Plan travel carefully

The CDC recommends that all pregnant women avoid traveling to areas where there is an outbreak of the Zika virus. If you’re trying to become pregnant, talk to your doctor about whether you or your partner’s upcoming travel plans increase the risk of Zika virus infection. Your doctor may suggest you and your partner wait to try to conceive for two to three months after travel.

* Stay in air-conditioned or well-screened housing

The mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus are most active from dawn to dusk, but they can also bite at night. Consider sleeping under a mosquito bed net, especially if you are outside.

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* Wear protective clothing

When you go into mosquito-infested areas, wear a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, socks and shoes.

* Use insect repellent

You can apply permethrin to your clothing, shoes, camping gear and bed netting. You can also buy clothing made with permethrin already in it. For your skin, use a repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, or one of the other active ingredients registered with the Environmental Protection Agency and known to be effective against mosquitoes. When used as directed, these repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

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* Reduce mosquito habitat

The mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus usually live in and around houses and breed in standing water that has collected in containers such as animal dishes, flower pots and used automobile tires. At least once a week, empty any sources of standing water to help lower mosquito populations.

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