The Zika virus is a virus that can be transmitted by two paths:
1. Via mosquito
2. Via sexual transmission
As of this posting, the Zika virus remains in the Caribbean, Latin American, American Samoa, and French Polynesian regions.
There have been no reports of any American contracting an infection from the Zika virus while in the continental United States.
1. The Zika virus has now been confirmed to cause grave harm the developing brain of the embryo and fetus, at anytime during pregnancy, not just the first trimester.
2. There are Americans who have traveled to areas where Zika have spread and have come home to the US infected with Zika virus. Over 500 such cases now have been reported in nearly every state, including Ohio.
3. Men seem to harbor the living virus in their reproductive fluids longer than women. For men with the virus, therefore, it can be transmitted for over a month after the man gets infected, whereas once the woman recovers from the infection, typically a week or so after the mosquito bite, she is no longer able to pass the virus along to a partner or baby.
4. Again, there are still NO KNOWN CASES of transmission of the Zika virus from someone who is in the continental US to a person in the continental US via a mosquito. However, enough people in the US have the virus, that once the mosquitoes come out, it is very possible that transmission via mosquito will start taking place. It is currently thought that such outbreaks in the US will be in small clusters, and mainly in the southernmost parts of the country, namely southern Florida and Texas, but only time will tell.
The Zika virus continues to erupt across the tropical Americas.
A great resource as this epidemic unfolds will always be the CDC at:
Please note that there have been zero (0) cases of the Zika virus caught BY MOSQUITO in any state of the United States. This is still true as of May 20, 2016
There have been new cases caught by mosquito in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, but none in Florida, Texas, or any other state.
With more cases of sexual transmission of the Zika virus documented, Zika viral infection is now fully established as a known STD.
Now, how long is a man with Zika virus contagious, via sexual contact? No one knows, but one semen sample was positive 10 weeks after the man was infected.
It still remains the case that by far the gravest danger posed by the Zika virus may be to developing babies.
But some deaths have been reported from people infected with Zika, so the risk is no longer considered solely born by the fetus. But the infection in anyone from childhood through adulthood is very unlikely to cause harm, 80% of all people infected, at any age, have no symptoms.
The bottom line at this time is that if you want to avoid getting infected by the Zika virus, you and your family need to stay out of areas where it is now very active, namely the tropical Americas [Mexico, Central America, Northern half of South America, the Caribbean], Samoa, and the Cape Verde Islands. Men who travel there should abstain from sexual contact or practice completely safe use of condoms for an indeterminate number of months. If their wives are or may become pregnant, the precautions must be taken for the duration of the pregnancy.
1. A virus long dormant in Africa spread to French Polynesia in 2007, and now is exploding across the tropical Americas, the Zika virus.
2. In adults, the vast majority of infected people either don’t get sick at all or have mild symptoms.
3. Less commonly, adults can get significant pain in muscles and joints.
4. Adults with the infection can have the neurologic complication of Guillan-Barre syndrome which is typically transient. Now some have died from the infection.
5. A very disturbing aspect of the Zika virus is its ability to infect babies of pregnant women and that it is now known to cause damage to brain development at any time during pregnancy.
6. Adults and children need to weigh the risk of serious infection if they plan to travel to tropical Americas, Samoa, and Cape Verde Islands. The risk of getting infected is real. There are neurologic complications and now even death reported.
7. Pregnant women should know that traveling to tropical Americas, Samoa, and Cape Verde Islands could be catastrophic for their developing baby.
8. If a woman who even may become pregnant has a partner who has traveled to the tropical Americas, Samoa, or Cape Verde Islands, she should abstain from sexual contact during the entire pregnancy.
The main point is that no one in Ohio can currently, or is likely ever to, catch Zika virus while in Ohio, except through sexual contact with an infected partner. Travel to Zika active areas is a very real risk to all. This would only change should mosquitoes in Ohio start carrying the virus, a very unlikely possibility.
To your health,
Dr. Arthur Lavin