5 things Western Pennsylvanians need to know about Zika
Zika virus, which has been linked to severe birth defects in thousands of babies in Brazil, is spreading “explosively” and could affect as many as 4 million people in the Americas, the World Health Organization said Thursday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a travel alert for people traveling to regions and certain countries where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Tribune-Review Medical Editor Luis Fábregas spoke to Dr. Amesh Adalja about Zika risks for people in Pennsylvania. Adalja is an infectious disease physician at UPMC and a senior associate at UPMC Center for Health Security.
LF: Is the Zika virus a threat to people in Pennsylvania?
AA: For the majority of people, Zika is a benign self-limited illness. Of those infected only 20 percent experience any symptoms. However, Pennsylvanians — especially pregnant women — who travel to places in which Zika is circulating should take proper precautions to minimize mosquito exposure (which will also protect them from dengue and chikungunya, spread by the same type of mosquitoes). Geographically, Aedes albopictus (Asian tiger mosquito) is found in southeastern Pennsylvania and there is a theoretical risk that an infected traveler could be bitten and the local population of Aedes mosquitoes seeded.
LF: What is the most important thing we need to know about Zika?
AA: The most important aspect of Zika virus is that for the vast majority of people, it is a minor illness. About 1 in 5 people infected with Zika virus become ill, according to the CDC. The most common symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes).
LF: Should pregnant women in the region worry about this virus? Should they alter travel plans?
AA: Pregnant women in the region should worry about Zika virus if they are traveling to an area in which the virus is circulating. Until better control is achieved, it is recommended that they alter travel plans. The CDC has a comperehensive list of Zika-affected areas.
LF: Is the Zika virus cause for a traveler to cancel a trip they've already planned to one of the countries affected? (Countries in the Caribbean, South America, and Central America?)
AA: Cancelling a trip to a Zika-affected country is a very reasonable action for a pregnant traveler.
LF: What precautions should travelers take while in the affected countries in order to prevent becoming infected with the Zika virus?
AA: Travelers in those areas should practice good mosquito avoidance behaviors such as wearing mosquito repellent, minimizing exposed skin, staying clear of known mosquito habitats, and removing standing water (which serves as a breeding place for Aedes mosquitoes) from their dwellings.
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.