By Minot AFB Public Health, Minot Air Force Base Public Health
/ Published June 13, 2016
MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Zika virus is primarily transmitted by infected mosquitos. Presently these transmissions are limited to the Caribbean including Puerto Rico and the U. S. Virgin Islands, the Pacific Islands, Mexico, Central America and South America. Mosquito transmission of Zika virus has also occurred in Cape Verde, Africa and in several regions of Southeast Asia. However, not all areas within Zika-affected regions or countries are equally affected.
As of 18 May 2016, no active transmission of Zika virus by mosquitos has been documented within the continental United States, but there have been 544 travel-associated cases http. On 28 April 2016, the CDC reported to the State of North Dakota the first confirmed case of travel-associated Zika virus in a North Dakota resident having recently traveled to Puerto Rico http.
Zika virus is also known to be secondarily transmitted in the blood and body fluids of infected persons to non-infected persons, and there is a plausible link between birth defects (microcephaly) and Zika virus infection during pregnancy. Therefore, it is highly recommended to use condoms or avoid sexual activities with a pregnant partner and suspend blood donations for 28 days upon return from a Zika affected area.
As the weather continues to warm, it is expected the mosquitos which transmit Zika virus will become more active in the Southeastern United States. Officials speculate this increased activity will result in the active transmission of Zika virus by mosquitos within the continental United States. However, the transmission of Zika virus is limited by the range of the mosquitos which can carry it.
Currently, Zika is transmitted solely by Aedes species mosquitos which are prevalent throughout most of the warmer tropical areas in the Americas. These mosquitos typically bite during the day and can be found indoors under beds and furniture. Aedes species mosquitos are present in the continental United States, predominantly in the Southeast and across Texas with a few pockets in New Mexico, Arizona and California. They have been known to come as far north as New Jersey and across to Nebraska.
Neither of the Aedes species implicated in spreading Zika virus have been found during mosquito surveillance at Minot Air Force Base. The Public Health office traps mosquitos annually and sends specimens for testing to the United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine (USAFSAM) laboratories at Wright Patterson AFB. The Public Health and Civil Engineering Entomology offices continue to work directly with the North Dakota Department of Health to control mosquito breeding, track local mosquito species and identify the prevalence of disease causing virus in those species.
Zika virus symptoms may include fever, rash, headache, joint and muscle aches, and red irritated eyes (conjunctivitis). However, 80% of infected individuals may never develop symptoms. For those who do exhibit symptoms, they typically last 2 to 7 days and complete recovery is the norm.
There is no vaccine or medications available for treating Zika infections. Healthcare providers and individuals must focus on treating the symptoms. If you had recent travel to a region where the active transmission of Zika virus is ongoing and you are experiencing a combination of the symptoms mentioned above, then consider speaking with a health care provider. The most current and accurate information on Zika virus can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website at www.cdc.gov/zika. Local and regional information is available on the State of North Dakota's site at http://www.ndhealth.gov/disease/zika/.
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). www.cdc.gov/zika
2. Health Alert Network: CDC Health Advisory. Update: Interim Guidelines for Prevention of Sexual Transmission of Zika Virus--United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). February 23, 2016; CDCHAN-00388
3. Musso D, Roche C, Robin E, Nhan T, Teissier A, Cao-Lormeau VM. Potential Sexual Transmission of Zika Virus. Emerging Infectious Diseases, February 2015; 21: 359-361 www.cdc.gov/eid
4. Talking Points "Zika Virus". U.S. Air Force Medical Service (AFMS). 4 Feb 16
5. Young C. Key Messages - Zika Virus Disease, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2 Feb 16