Zika Town Hall Questions & Answers

1. Is Zika in Imperial County? Have any cases been seen already?

The Zika Virus has not been detected in Imperial County and no cases have been confirmed.

2. If you contract the Zika virus, how long does it stay in your body?

The virus is cleared from the bloodstream in less than 2 weeks but can live longer in isolated parts of the body which is why sexual transmission can last up to 6 months

3. What are the risks for someone who gets pregnant after having been exposed to the Zika Virus?

Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus during pregnancy or at delivery. Zika infection during pregnancy can cause a birth defect of the brain called microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects. Other problems have been detected among fetuses and infants infected with Zika virus before birth, such as defects of the eye, hearing deficits, and impaired growth.

What we don’t know: If a pregnant woman is infected

  • We don’t know how the virus will affect her or her pregnancy. We don’t know how likely it is that Zika will pass to her fetus.

  • We don’t know if the fetus is infected, if the fetus will develop birth defects.

  • We don’t know when in pregnancy the infection might cause harm to the fetus.

  • We don’t know whether her baby will have birth defects.

  • We don’t know if sexual transmission of Zika virus poses a different risk of birth defects than mosquito-borne transmission

From the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

4. What are some things that you can do to protect yourself and your family?

You can protect yourself and your family by using repellent to avoid mosquito bites. In addition you can get rid of standing water on your property to stop mosquito breeding, make sure mosquitoes don’t enter your home and women who are pregnant or considering becoming pregnant and their male partners should postpone travel to any area where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.

5. I am traveling to an area where Zika may exist. What should we do to prevent contracting the Zika virus?

If you are traveling to an area where there is ongoing transmission of the Zika virus you should check the CDC Traveler’s Health site for current travel notices: cdc.gov/travel. Pack insect repellent, long-sleeved shirts and long pants, clothing and gear treated with permthrin, infant carrier mosquito net if needed, bed net and condoms (if you might have sex). Protect yourself by using insect repellent, cover exposed skin when possible and using condoms correctly every time you have sex. Stop the spread of Zika by watching for symptoms after you get home, call your doctor immediately if you suspect Zika, use insect repellent for 3 weeks after travel and use condoms when you have sex.

6. What is the lifespan of the virus?

Zika virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for about a week, but it can be found longer in some people. The virus can live longer in isolated parts of the body, which is why sexual transmission can last up to 6 months.

7. Is there a test for women who want to conceive?

There is currently no screening test available to detect the virus. Testing is recommended for people who may have been exposed to the virus and have symptoms.

8. If you believe you have Zika, is there a test?

Testing is available to detect Zika virus. If you traveled to an area where Zika virus is transmitted and you have symptoms (fever, maculopapular rash, conjunctivitis, joint pain), contact your health-care provider.

9. What happens after you’ve had Zika, do you develop antibodies?

When individuals are infected with Zika virus, their immune systems produce neutralizing antibodies to fight the infection. Research is in progress to determine if these antibodies may offer immunity against future infections by strains of the same Zika virus lineage.

10. What is the process if someone has symptoms and traveled and is being seen at the Clinic?

Your health-care provider will do appropriate follow-up, including ordering testing, if you have lived in or traveled to an area with Zika virus and have symptoms suggestive of Zika infection.

11. Are you working with Mexico on Zika?

Public Health disease investigation and vector control staff have been working with Baja California counterparts since Aedes aegypti mosquitoes were detected in the region.

12. When talking about prevalence where can I find that information?

The California Department of Public Health web site provides information about the number of confirmed and suspected cases of Zika infection reported in California. To date there have been no locally acquired cases of Zika infection reported in California. For more information, go to: http://www.cdph.ca.gov/HealthInfo/discond/Pages/Zika.aspx

13. How is information being shared with doctors?

Public health staff is working with doctors, clinics and hospitals in the County to assist clinicians with identifying suspect cases and to ensure that they report cases to Public Health. In addition, the Department is making Mosquito Kits available to pregnant women through community clinics and medical offices.

14. Have you received information if Zika can be transmitted from mother to child through breast milk?

Zika has been found in breast milk, but there are no reports of babies getting infected with Zika from breastfeeding.

15. How is information being provided to schools? How is information being shared?

Zika-related information is being shared in a variety of ways in Imperial County. The Department is making use of its website to provide updated Zika information. In addition, the Department has been actively using social media to keep the public updated and informed. Information is also being shared through presentations with community groups, at health fairs and at Town Hall meetings.

16. Is it possible for a woman to sexually transmit the virus?

There has been one reported occurrence of female-to-male sexual transmission of Zika virus. Current guidance to prevent sexual transmission of Zika virus is based on the assumption that transmission occurs from a male partner to a receptive partner. Ongoing surveillance is needed to determine the risk for transmission of Zika virus infection from a female to her sexual partners.

17. If a woman is infected in her 2nd or 3rd trimester does it affect the fetus?

There is still much information about Zika that is unknown and new information is received on a weekly and sometimes a daily basis.

18. When are mosquitoes most active during the year?

Generally speaking, depending on environmental factors, mosquitoes are most prevalent from June through September. In Imperial County mosquitoes are active year round due to warmer weather during our fall and winter seasons. Although mosquito activity can occur year round in Imperial County, you will find it fluctuates as a result of temperature variations, moisture/humidity and precipitation.

19. How can people report standing water?

The public can report issues with standing water and mosquito breeding by contacting Environmental Health at 442-265-1888.

20. Is there funding streams that will help local residents if the Zika virus became an epidemic?

The CDC has authorized local jurisdictions to redirect remaining Ebola Funding to conduct Zika-related activities. The Imperial County Public Health Department has been using these funds to develop and distribute mosquito prevention kits for pregnant women and to conduct outreach activities. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has announced two Zika-specific funding streams that will be available to Imperial County. Through their Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity Building Program, CDPH will be purchasing vector control equipment and supplies for 16 vector control programs including Imperial with known Aedes mosquito infestations. Additionally, CDPH is allocating an additional $55,000 to Imperial County for Zika activities through the Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program.

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