Zika Virus Information
As we get settled into our fall routines, it is important to take extra precaution to keep ourselves and our community healthy. Getting proper rest, eating a balanced diet, exercising, and practicing good hygiene (e.g. washing hands, surface sanitation, covering your mouth with your arm when you sneeze or cough, etc.) are ways to ensure a healthy start to the semester. More information on staying healthy can be found here.
Additionally, there has been national media coverage on the outbreak and spread of the Zika virus. I want to share important information about Zika virus disease from the Georgia Department of Public Health and discuss steps you can take to protect yourself and help prevent the spread of Zika in Georgia.
To date, there are no locally transmitted Zika cases in Georgia, which means Zika has not been spread by mosquitoes in the state. There are, however, about 70 cases of Zika in Georgia that are related to travel in South and Central America, the Caribbean and Mexico. Zika has been transmitted locally in Florida in the Miami-Dade area and reinforces the need for ongoing mosquito control and prevention of mosquito bites.
Zika virus is transmitted primarily through the bite of infected Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes. Both types of mosquitoes can be found in Georgia. Transmission occurs when a mosquito bites an infected individual and then that mosquito bites another individual and passes on the infection. Zika can also be spread by a man or woman through unprotected sex.
Zika is known to cause a serious birth defect – microcephaly – when it is passed from a pregnant woman to her unborn baby. Microcephaly causes smaller than normal head size and poor brain development in babies. Zika is also linked to Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) in children and adults following Zika infection.
There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika. Symptoms of Zika virus infection include fever, rash, joint pain or red eyes. If you are experiencing these symptoms or have recently experienced them, please see your health care provider, our Student Health clinic, or local department of public health office as soon as possible. However, most people with Zika virus never know they are infected, so everyone is advised to protect themselves from Zika and mosquito bites:
- Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and socks for outdoor activities (mosquitoes that transmit Zika are daytime biters).
- Use EPA-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), or IR3535 (during travel and for three weeks after returning home)
- Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents)
- Make sure doors and windows fit tightly and screens are in good repair.
- If traveling, check CDC Travel Advisories for countries with Zika transmission (pregnant women should not travel to locations with on-going Zika transmission).
- Use condoms for all sexual activity if either partner may have Zika or may have been exposed to Zika.
Additional Zika information can be found on the Georgia Department of Public Health’s website, including the number of travel-related cases of Zika in Georgia, the counties of residence, and links to the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If you think you have been exposed to the Zika virus, please contact your health care provider, the Student Health Center at (912) 279-4537, the Southeast Georgia Health System at (912) 466-7000, or the Glynn County Health Department at (912) 264-3961.