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MDHHS reminds travelers to take precautions against Zika virus; Michigan confirms 62 cases of Zika virus including two pregnant women
For Immediate Release: October 4, 2016
LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is reminding residents to protect themselves from Zika virus while travelling to places with active Zika transmission. Zika virus disease is spread to people primarily through the bite of infected Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, which have not been found in Michigan, but are common in tropical areas and some parts of the United States.
“If you are considering travel to a warmer destination, especially if you or your partner are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, talk to your physician before you travel about the latest health advisories and recommendations,” said Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive with the MDHHS. “The best way to protect against mosquito-borne illness is to prevent mosquito bites. In the case of Zika virus, pregnant women should avoid travel to areas with local transmission for optimal protection.”
Couples who are planning to conceive in the near future should also consider avoiding nonessential travel to areas with active Zika transmission. Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause microcephaly and other severe brain defects.
To date, Michigan has confirmed 62 cases of Zika virus disease including two pregnant women. MDHHS is participating in the U.S. Zika Pregnancy Registry, an effort to learn more about the effects of Zika virus infection during pregnancy.
All of the Zika cases in Michigan are travel related. While the virus is primarily transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito, it’s important that residents of reproductive age are aware of the risks associated with sexual transmission of Zika virus. Zika can be spread through sex without a condom. Most cases of sexual transmission have involved people who had symptoms of Zika virus infection. However, recent evidence suggests that asymptomatic males may be capable of transmitting Zika virus to their sex partners. There is currently no vaccine or treatment for Zika.
Zika virus illness is typically mild. The most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes) lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Zika has also been linked to Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), an uncommon condition of the nervous system following infections.
Zika virus is an emerging disease and recommendations are changing as new information becomes available. The CDC currently recommends the following for travelers:
Pregnant women should not travel to areas with active Zika transmission. If they must travel, they should take precautions to prevent mosquito bites.
For non-pregnant women who travel to areas with active Zika transmission, it is recommended they prevent pregnancy for at least eight weeks from symptom onset (if ill) or last possible exposure (if illness does not develop).
For men who return from travel, regardless of whether they develop an illness consistent with Zika virus disease post travel,it is recommended they use condoms and avoid conception for at least six months.
Men who have been in an area with active Zika virus transmission and have a pregnant partner should either use condoms the right way every time they have sex, or not have sex for the duration of the pregnancy.
MDHHS is working closely with the CDC to find additional Zika cases in returning travelers or their partners, and is coordinating with local health departments to enhance mosquito surveillance programs. Additionally, the MDHHS laboratory has added capacity to test for Zika infection to help improve public health response time. For the most current information about Zika, visit www.cdc.gov/zika.
Statewide case counts and Michigan-specific information can be found on the MDHHS Zika webpage www.michigan.gov/zika. MDHHS will provide updates on the total number of cases statewide and including the number of pregnant women. Additional information about the cases will not be made available due to health privacy concerns.
National statistics about pregnancies and pregnancy outcomes are available on the CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/pregnancy-outcomes.html.
For information about Zika in a specific Michigan county, contact the local health department.
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