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Expat Exchange - Zika Virus in El Salvador
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El Zonte, El Salvador


Zika Virus in El Salvador

By Betsy Burlingame

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Summary: The mosquito-borne Zika Virus is a p for people living in El Salvador. It's especially important for pregnant women to understand the risks of getting Zika during pregnancy. Learn how to limit your exposure and what to do if you get Zika.

In El Salvador, residents face concerns related to the Zika Virus transmitted by mosquitoes. Pregnant women, in particular, need to be aware of the risks associated with contracting Zika during their pregnancy. Discover ways to minimize exposure and steps to take if you contract the virus.

The Zika virus, a mosquito-borne disease, has been a significant health concern in El Salvador since its first reported case in 2015. The virus, which is primarily transmitted through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito, has been linked to severe birth defects and neurological disorders. This article aims to provide an in-depth understanding of the Zika virus in El Salvador, its symptoms, prevalence, and its impact on pregnancy. It also offers advice on how expats can prevent mosquito bites and what to do if infected with the virus.

What is the Zika Virus?

Zika virus is a mosquito-borne disease caused by the Zika virus. It is primarily transmitted through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito, which bites during the day. Symptoms of the virus include fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week. However, infection during pregnancy can cause severe birth defects, including microcephaly and other severe brain abnormalities. In rare cases, the virus can cause Guillain-Barré syndrome, a neurological disorder that can lead to paralysis and death.

Where is Zika Most Prevalent in El Salvador?

The Zika virus is most prevalent in tropical areas of El Salvador, particularly in densely populated urban areas. The departments of San Salvador, La Libertad, and Santa Ana have reported the highest number of cases. However, the virus has been detected in all 14 departments of the country, indicating widespread transmission.

Zika Virus and Pregnancy

Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause severe birth defects, including microcephaly, where a baby's head is significantly smaller than expected, often due to abnormal brain development. Other complications can include miscarriage, stillbirth, and eye defects. Pregnant women are advised to avoid travel to areas with ongoing Zika virus transmission, including El Salvador. If travel is unavoidable, strict measures to prevent mosquito bites are recommended.

How do Expats in El Salvador Prevent Mosquito Bites?

Expats in El Salvador can take several measures to prevent mosquito bites and reduce their risk of Zika virus infection. These include using insect repellent, wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, staying in places with air conditioning or window and door screens, and sleeping under a mosquito bed net. It's also important to eliminate mosquito breeding sites, such as containers with standing water, as the Aedes mosquito breeds in such environments.

What if I get Zika Virus in El Salvador?

If you get infected with the Zika virus in El Salvador, it's important to seek medical attention immediately. There is no specific treatment for Zika, but symptoms can be managed with rest, rehydration, and over-the-counter medicines for fever and pain. It's also crucial to avoid mosquito bites during the first week of infection to prevent further spread of the virus.

Is Zika Virus Contagious?

Zika virus is not contagious in the traditional sense; it cannot be spread directly from person to person through casual contact. However, it can be transmitted through sexual contact with an infected person, from a pregnant woman to her fetus, and through blood transfusion. The primary mode of transmission is through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito.

Is Zika Virus More Dangerous for Children, Elderly, or Immune-Compromised?

While the Zika virus typically causes a mild illness in adults, its effects can be more severe in certain populations. Infants born to women infected with Zika during pregnancy are at risk of severe birth defects. The elderly and those with compromised immune systems may also experience more severe symptoms and complications. However, more research is needed to fully understand the effects of Zika virus on these vulnerable populations.

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.


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El Zonte, El Salvador

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Flexible solutions allow you to tailor your cover to meet your needs and budget. Use Promocode: LIFE10 and get 10% off your international health insurance for life!
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