Zika is a virus that is spread to people through mosquito bites. It can cause the following symptoms:
- Joint pain
- Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
The symptoms are usually mild and last from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon. Treatment is supportive care. Rest, fluids, and Tylenol for fever and pain. Do not take NSAIDS (Ibuprofen, Motrin, or naproxen).
Health officials are now seeing that Zika may be dangerous to pregnant women and their babies.
Brazil has reported an increase in infants born with microcephaly (small head) at the same time as an outbreak of Zika virus in that country. More studies are being done to learn the connection between Zika and birth defects.
Due to the risks, the CDC recommends that pregnant women avoid travelling to areas where Zika virus has been seen.
If you are travelling to areas where Zika virus are found, you should be careful to avoid mosquito bites by taking the following actions:
- Wear long sleeve shirts and long pants
- Use insect repellents (follow product label instructions)
- Do not use insect repellents on babies younger than 2 months of age
- Treat clothing with permethrin
- Stay and sleep in screen or air conditioned rooms
For a list of countries where Zika virus has been found please visit http://www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/index.html
According to Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been 170 reported cases of measles already in 2015, mostly linked to an outbreak in California. In 2014, there were 644 cases, the largest number of cases since measles was eliminated in 2000. There have not been any reported cases in Maryland this year, but it can happen in our community as well if you choose not to vaccinate your children.
Who is at risk?
All unvaccinated individuals, especially children less than 5 years old, adults over 20 years old, pregnant women, and immunocompromised individuals. Although measles have been eliminated in the US in 2000, there continues to be outbreaks due to unvaccinated travelers (either American or foreign) who bring measles into the US from countries where measles have not been eliminated. Measles has also been spreading through communities where there are groups of unvaccinated individuals.
How is it transmitted?
Measles is highly contagious and is transmitted by coughing and sneezing. This virus can live up to 2 hours in the air or on a surface after an infected person coughs or sneezes. Then if you breathe in the contaminated air or touch the infected surface and then touch your mouth, eyes, or nose, you will become infected if you have not been immunized. In fact,9 out of 10 unimmunized individuals who are exposed to measles will get it. A person is considered contagious and can spread measles from 4 days before and for 4 days after the measles rash appears.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms generally start 7-14 days after a person becomes infected. Symptoms include high fever, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes. Two to three days after symptoms begin, small, white spots may appear in the mouth, called Koplik spots. Three to five days after symptoms begin, a rash will appear. It starts as red, flat spots on the face around the hairline and then spreads downwards to the neck, body, arms, and legs. Small raised bumps may appear on top of the red, flat spots and the spots may join together as the rash spreads. As the rash appears, the fever may spike to over 104 F. After a few days, the fever will break and the rash will fade.
What are the complications?
Children less than 5 years old and adults older than 20 years old are more likely to have complications from measles. Common complications include ear infection, croup, and diarrhea. However, severe complications can occur. Pneumonia and encephalitis (swelling around brain) can occur and lead to hospitalizations and even death. According to the CDC,
� 1in 4 individuals will be hospitalized due to measles complications.
� 1in 20 children will get pneumonia from measles, which is the leading cause of death due to measles complications.
� 1in 1000 children will have encephalitis which may lead to convulsions, deafness, and/or learning disabilities.
� 1-2 children out of 1000 who have measles will die from it.
Finally, there is a long term complication that can occur 7-10 years after measles infection even though the infected person may have seemed to have fully recovered. It is called subacute sclerosing panencephalitis, which affects your central nervous system and is fatal. The risk of developing this is greater if you get measles before the age of 2 years.
What you can do to have your family protected against measles?
Please have your children vaccinated on time. Measles-mumps-rubella vaccine is recommended at 12- 15 months of age with a second dose at 4-6 years of age.