Here's What Students Should Know About the Small Zika Outbreak in the US
If you're planning to study in the US there are a few things you should know so that you can plan accordingly.
If you've been keeping up with the news lately, you've no doubt heard of the spread of the Zika virus - an infection spread by mosquitos that recently had a resurgence in Brazil last year, from its first noted occurrence in 1947. The infection has hit some cities in the United States, and while it's not a massive outbreak, if you're planning to study in the United States there are a few things you should know so that you can plan accordingly.
1. The only locally acquired cases of Zika in the US were in Florida
While there have been other cases reported in other parts of the continental US, they were all travel related, meaning the virus was contracted outside of the state and/or country. The only continental US state that has seen any cases of Zika that were contracted locally is Florida, likely because of the high number of tourists and proximity to the Caribbean, which has seen quite a few cases that have spread quickly.
2. Zika is primarily complicated for women who are pregnant
The vast majority of all Zika cases are asymptomatic, meaning patients do not show any symptoms. Those that do report flu-like symptoms and a rash. The primary concern for Zika is that pregnant women who contract the virus have a higher possibility of causing microcephaly (a disorder affecting newborns that causes cognitive disabilities). While there are other complications that have been documented in some cases of Zika, it's a very small percentage and most people don't see any complications or issues outside of the basic temporary symptoms.
3. Using mosquito spray can help minimize risk
If you're in an area that has a high volume of mosquitos, being consistent about wearing bug spray and mosquito spray can significantly reduce the chances that you'll contract Zika. Also, making sure that your home and surroundings aren't appealing places for mosquitos to congregate and breed are key. Don't keep any standing water outside or nearby and use Citronella candles and sprays outside to keep mosquitos at bay.
4. Zika can be transmitted sexually
If you're attending school in an area that's seen a higher number of Zika cases, be aware that Zika isn't just spread through mosquito bites. A person who has been infected with Zika can transmit the virus sexually to a partner, so using protection like condoms is an important part of making sure that you take all necessary precautions. You can find an up-to-date list of the states that have confirmed cases of Zika on the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website.
5. Stay up-to-date on travel notifications
Many cases of Zika in the US stem from travel to South America or the Caribbean, so it's important to keep that in mind if you're planning any holiday travel to any of these locations. The CDC also has up-to-date travel advisories so that you can see which destinations have had large outbreaks and plan your travel accordingly.