What You Need to Know About Zika Virus

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- Most people have heard about the current Zika virus infections in South America, Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean, and South Pacific. 

Zika virus infects humans through mosquito bites. Rarely, sexual transmission has also been reported. But only about one out of five people infected with Zika becomes sick, with mild symptoms such as fever, rash, and joint pain. Complete recovery is normal and deaths are rare. 

No vaccine to prevent Zika or medication to treat it is currently available. What concerns health officials most is a potential link between Zika virus infection during pregnancy and a particular birth defect – microcephaly – in which the baby’s head is smaller than expected with a smaller brain that has not developed properly. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised pregnant women to consider postponing travel to any area where Zika virus spread is ongoing. Team Shaw’s healthcare team and Military Treatment Facility leadership are actively engaged to prevent, detect, and respond to Zika. 

So far, Zika virus has not been found in mosquitoes in the continental U.S., and the few cases in the U.S. were acquired during travel. Should any patient have symptoms and travel history consistent with Zika, appropriate testing and follow up appointments with public health authorities can be arranged.

For more information on what can be done to protect against Zika, Team Shaw members are encouraged to visit the CDC Zika webpage at www.cdc.gov/zika or read the Air Force Medical Service's article here.

Those with specific questions should consult their healthcare team.