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Lyster helps spread Zika virus awareness

Army graphic

Army graphic

Published: May 31, 2016

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (May 31, 2016) -- Lyster Army Health Clinic and Fort Rucker stand ready to help provide information about the Zika Virus to the Fort Rucker community.

Zika is a virus that is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito. The virus is transmitted when a mosquito bites an infected person, then carries the virus to the next person, and infects them when it bites again. This cycle from person to mosquito to person is how the virus colonizes new areas, moving with infected people as they travel.

Only one out of every five people infected will develop symptoms. The most common symptoms of Zika virus infection are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital and they very rarely die of Zika.

Zika virus infection can result in birth defects in women who become infected during pregnancy.  The most common birth defect is a smaller than normal head size, called microcephaly, which results in brain injury. The likelihood of experiencing birth defects following Zika infection is not fully known, but one recent study showed that 12 of 42 Zika infected women had babies with serious brain defects.

Persons who have traveled to Zika affected areas and become ill within two weeks of their return are urged to make an appointment, so that they can be tested. Test results will determine appropriate public health measures to prevent the colonization of Fort Rucker mosquito population by the Zika virus and thereby protect unborn children.

Men who have been infected with Zika can transmit the virus to their sexual partners for up to six months following Zika infection. The CDC recommends men with a history of travel to Zika areas to abstain from or use condoms for all sexual contact with women who are pregnant for the duration of the pregnancy.

Pregnant women and women who are trying to become pregnant should avoid travelling to Zika outbreak areas and should avoid unprotected sexual contact with men who have travelled to Zika outbreak areas for the entire duration of their pregnancy.

Each year from April 1 to Oct. 1, Lyster Army Health Clinic’s Environmental Health team collects mosquitoes to monitor for diseases and help protect the Fort Rucker community. This year, the EH team is actively monitoring Fort Rucker’s mosquito population for Zika virus.

Environmental health personnel also work closely with the installation’s pest management professionals to help identify where mosquitoes are breeding and implement measures to control mosquito populations.

To help protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites and prevent Zika infection, public health authorities offer the following tips:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Eliminate standing water in and around your home like flower pots, bird baths, and gutters
  • Stay in places with air conditioning or that use intact window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellents. All EPA-registered insect repellents are evaluated for safety and effectiveness.
  • Always follow the product label instructions.
  • Reapply insect repellent as directed.
  • Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.
  • If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent.

Concerned beneficiaries should contact their primary care manager to arrange for counseling and appropriate testing.

A list of areas with ongoing transmission of Zika, and more information on the virus, is available at the CDC website and the Army Public Health Center website.

This article was originally published at www.army.mil/article/168850

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