Saturday, February 13, 2016

A Pro-Life Guide to Zika: How is Zika transmitted and how can I protect myself?

Do I need to worry about getting Zika?

4 in 5 adults infected by Zika have no symptoms at all. Those who do have symptoms tend to have very mild symptoms. Typically, 2-7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito, a symptomatic adult experiences fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes. Very few adults require medical attention, let alone hospitalization.

There is evidence that Zika can effect brain development in unborn babies. When a pregnant woman is infected, the infection can spread to her unborn child. This makes Zika a concern for many married Catholic couples.

Source: CDC's "Zika Virus: Questions and Answer's"

How do mosquitoes transmit Zika?

Zika is transmitted by infected mosquitoes. The mosquitoes are infected when they bite a person who already has the virus.

Source: CDC's "Zika Virus: Questions and Answer's"

Is Zika sexually transmitted? 

Yes, Zika can be transmitted sexually. There are currently three reports of Zika being transmitted by sex:

  1. From a man to a woman, several days before the man experienced Zika symptoms.
  2. A man to a man, with the first man having symptoms
  3. A man who had Zika virus in semen up to 10 weeks after infection.
There is not any evidence of woman to man transmission currently, nor of men who never developed symptoms transmitting Zika, but this may be because of the limited evidence.

How can I decrease my risk of catching Zika?

The "easiest" way to avoid Zika is to not live or travel to places which are effected, but this is obviously not always possible.

If you and your spouse live in a region with mosquito-transmitted Zika, the CDC recommends taking serious precautions to prevent mosquito bites. Since Zika can be sexually transmitted, husband and wife should both prevent bites by:

  • Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Staying inside in areas with window and door screens, or air conditioning.
  • Wearing EPA-approved mosquito repellent according to the directions.
  • Sleeping under mosquito netting.
If a husband is infected by Zika while his wife is pregnant, abstinence can prevent sexual transmission to mother and baby. We do not know how long the virus is present in semen yet, so there are no guidelines to what length of abstinence would prevent transmission.

Source: CDC's "Zika Virus: Questions and Answer's"CDC's "Guidelines for Prevention of Sexual Transmission of Zika"

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