Recently, the news has been filled with stories warning people about the Zika virus, but you may have some questions. What is the Zika virus? Will it affect me? What can I do to protect myself from it?
How do you get it?
The Zika virus is usually passed to people from mosquitoes. Anyone who is traveling to or living in an area with cases of the Zika virus could get the virus. Mosquito bites are the main way Zika can infect humans, but there are some reports of it being passed through male-to-female sex.
What happens if I get it?
Only one in five people with the virus will get sick. This might happen two to seven days after a person is infected and the symptoms include rash, fever, and joint pain. The sickness is very mild and lasts several days to a week. People usually don't get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika.
Is it right here in New York City?
Right now, there are only three reported cases of Zika virus in New York City, but these are all due to travel to regions with Zika. The type of mosquito that spreads the virus has not been found in New York City.
Is my baby safe if I'm pregnant?
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is still doing research to see if babies of pregnant women with Zika are affected. Scientists are not sure yet, but if a mother has Zika virus, the baby might be born with birth defects.
What about travel?
For this reason, the CDC recommends that people be cautious when traveling to a country where the Zika virus currently is, like several countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.
How can I prevent it?
In addition to avoiding travel to areas where the Zika virus has been reported, it is also recommended that people who may have been exposed through travel use a barrier method of contraception like a condom when having sex to prevent the Zika virus from being passed this way.
For tips on protecting yourself from bug bites, check out the CDC website.