What the NYC Department of Health Wants You to Know About the Zika Virus

As the temperatures drop in NY, many New Yorkers visit warmer climates to escape the cold. Now, our Health Department has been working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to educate those traveling about Zika-the mosquito-borne illness prevalent in Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America. Take a look at what the New York City Department of Health has shared with us about the virus and what you need to know.

Travel  Warning for Pregnant Women Zika Virus-page-001

Zika Virus

BREAKING Health Alert on Zika Virus

The CDC has issued a Health Advisory on Zika Virus infections for returning travelers from Central America, South America, the Caribbean, and Mexico. The CDC has also issued a Level 2 Travel Advisory for those same areas. For maps of the latest affected areas, visit the websites for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

Read the CDC Health Alert Network Advisory.

Read the Travel Warning for Pregnant Women (PDF) Other Languages [En Espanol] [繁體中文] [简体中文][Português] [Creole] [Français] [Русский] [정의] [বাঙালি]

Providers: Report Zika Virus infections. For more information, click here. 

Read the Press Release: Deputy Mayor Palacio, Health Commissioner Bassett Update New Yorkers on City’s Reponse to Zika Virus.

Latest Facts and Advisories as of 1/28/2016:

  • Reported cases of Zika in New York City: 3
    • One of the three cases was a pregnant woman;
    • All cases contracted Zika while visiting other countries; and
    • All patients have recovered.
  • There is no risk of acquiring Zika in New York City.
  • Mosquitos are not active during cold weather months.
  • The Zika virus is not contagious. It cannot be spread by casual contact with an infected person.
  • Pregnant women should consider delaying travel to affected countries until more is known.
  • Pregnant women who have recently travelled to affected countries should consult with their doctor.

What the City is Doing as of 1/28/2016:

  • Working closely with the CDC and the state to actively monitor the situation.
  • Meeting with experts who focus on clinical implications of the virus and mosquito control strategies – including health experts in Southern States and the Caribbean – to look at their existing plans.
  • Distributing the Travel Warning for Pregnant Women document, available in nine languages, to providers, elected officials, Health Department clinics, and community and faith based organizations.
  • Developing a public awareness campaign around mosquito bite prevention.
    Conducting outreach to women’s health providers including OB/GYN, Pediatrics and Family Medicine facilities.
  • Conducting outreach to community and faith based organizations to educate on the risks of travelling to impacted countries.
  • Preparing for the start of mosquito season in April by expanding upon current mosquito control activities used to prevent West Nile Virus if Zika virus is found locally.
  • Advising providers to check for symptoms of Zika virus in patients who have travelled and report cases to the Health Department.

 Virus del Zika (PDF)

What is Zika virus?
Zika is a virus spread to people through bites of infected mosquitoes.

What are the symptoms of Zika virus disease?
Up to 80% of people who are infected do not become sick. For the 20% who do become sick, the most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). Symptoms begin 2 – 12 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. The illness may be mistaken for dengue virus or chikungunya virus, two other mosquito-borne diseases. No specific treatment is available but people infected with the virus may receive medications to help relieve the symptoms.

How dangerous is this disease?
The Zika virus is not contagious. It cannot be spread by casual contact with an infected person.

For those who contract the virus and are symptomatic, most people fully recover and do not need to be hospitalized. However, several months following the outbreak of Zika in Brazil, a large increase in the number of babies born with a congenital birth defect called microcephaly was observed. Microcephaly describes a baby or child with a smaller than normal head. A study is being done to see if the increase in reports of babies with microcephaly is due to an infection with Zika virus during pregnancy as this complication had not been previously reported with Zika virus. Other causes of microcephaly are also being investigated.In addition, during an outbreak in French Polynesia that caused approximately 20,000 cases, there were reports of neurologic diseases such as Guillain-Barre syndrome as well as central nervous system malformations in newborn babies.

Where is Zika virus found?
Outbreaks of Zika have occurred in areas of Africa, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, and several countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Because the mosquitoes that spread Zika virus are found throughout the world, it is likely that outbreaks will spread to new countries. In December 2015, Puerto Rico reported its first confirmed case of Zika virus disease. Locally transmitted Zika has not been reported elsewhere in the United States, but cases have been reported in returning travelers. For an updated list, visit the CDC website.

Are New Yorkers at risk?
New Yorkers who travel to affected areas are potentially at risk. Advice for travelers is described below. New Yorkers who do not travel to Brazil or another affected area are not currently at risk. The virus has not been identified anywhere in the continental United States. Puerto Rico recently reported a locally acquired case. The mosquito, Aedes aegypti, thought to be responsible for spreading the disease in Latin America is not found in NYC.

How can I protect myself if I travel to an affected area?
There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika virus disease. Travelers should consider visiting a travel clinic before a trip to address any other potential travel associated concerns, e.g. antimalarials, hepatitis A vaccination. When traveling to countries where Zika virus or other viruses spread by mosquitoes have been reported, protect yourself and others from this disease by taking steps to prevent mosquito bites;

  • use insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus and always in accordance with the label
  • wear protective clothing including long sleeves and pants
  • stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens
  • use bed-nets if mosquitoes cannot be kept out of a residence
  • eliminate standing water that collects in and around your residence

Precautions should be followed during the day and evenings as the mosquitoes that transmit these diseases are aggressive daytime and early evening biters. Please refer to the DOHMH pages onrepellents and the travel brochure.  [Spanish]  [Chinese]

How would New York City respond if Zika virus were found locally?
The mosquito thought to be responsible for transmitting Zika virus in Latin America is Aedes aegypti. This mosquito is not found in NYC. However, mosquito control methodologies used to prevent West Nile virus would be employed if Zika virus were found locally.

The Health Department is working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to identify cases and keep communities informed.

How is Zika virus disease diagnosed?
Infection with the virus is diagnosed by a blood test.

How is Zika virus disease treated?
No specific treatment is available. People infected with the virus may receive medications to help relieve their symptoms. People who have the virus should stay indoors or wear protective clothing and mosquito repellent for three to five days after they start to feel sick. This will help prevent mosquitoes from potentially spreading the virus to other New Yorkers.

Where can I get more information about Zika virus?
For more information visit the websites for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and for the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).


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