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Zika Virus in Panama | Expat Exchange
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Coronado, Panama


Zika Virus in Panama

By Betsy Burlingame

Kovalenko & Vera Attorneys at Law in Panama
Kovalenko & Vera Attorneys at Law in Panama

Summary: The mosquito-borne Zika Virus is a p for people living in Panama. 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 Panama, 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 illness, has been a significant health concern in many parts of the world, including Panama. This article aims to provide comprehensive information about the Zika virus in Panama, its symptoms, prevalence, and long-lasting effects, as well as its impact on pregnancy and the measures expats can take to prevent mosquito bites. It also addresses questions about the contagious nature of the virus and its potential dangers for different age groups and those with compromised immune systems.

What is the Zika Virus?

The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne disease primarily transmitted by the Aedes species of mosquito. Symptoms typically include mild fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, or headache. These symptoms usually last for 2-7 days. However, many people infected with Zika virus won’t have symptoms or will only have mild symptoms. The long-lasting effects of Zika are still being studied, but it has been linked to neurological conditions such as Guillain-Barré syndrome in adults and microcephaly in newborns if the mother was infected during pregnancy.

Where is Zika Most Prevalent in Panama?

Zika virus was first confirmed in Panama in 2015. Since then, it has been detected in several provinces, including Panama City, Panama Oeste, Veraguas, and Colon. The virus is more prevalent in areas with high mosquito populations, particularly in urban and semi-urban settings where the Aedes mosquito breeds in stagnant water around homes and other dwellings.

Zika Virus and Pregnancy

Zika virus poses a significant risk to pregnant women as it can cause severe birth defects, including microcephaly, a condition where a baby's head is much smaller than expected. Other complications can include miscarriage, stillbirth, and other severe brain defects. Pregnant women are advised to avoid travel to areas with Zika virus outbreaks, including parts of Panama. If travel is unavoidable, strict measures to prevent mosquito bites are recommended.

How do Expats in Panama Prevent Mosquito Bites?

Expats in Panama can take several measures to prevent mosquito bites and reduce the risk of contracting the Zika virus. These include using insect repellent, wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, staying in places with window and door screens or air conditioning, and removing stagnant water where mosquitoes can breed. It's also recommended to use bed nets if sleeping outdoors or in an area without screens or air conditioning.

What if I get Zika Virus in Panama?

If you get infected with the Zika virus in Panama, it's important to seek medical attention immediately. While there's no specific treatment for Zika, symptoms can be managed with rest, rehydration, and common pain and fever medicines. Avoiding mosquito bites for the first week of infection is crucial to prevent further spread of the virus.

Is Zika Virus Contagious?

Zika virus is primarily transmitted through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. However, it can also be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus, through sexual contact, and possibly through blood transfusion. It's not spread directly from person to person through casual contact.

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

While anyone can get Zika virus, it can be particularly dangerous for pregnant women due to the risk of severe birth defects. The virus has also been linked to Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare nervous system disorder, which can affect people of any age but is more common in adults and older people. Those with compromised immune systems may be at higher risk of complications from Zika virus, but more research is needed in this area.

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.


Kovalenko & Vera Attorneys at Law in Panama
Kovalenko & Vera Attorneys at Law in Panama

Kovalenko & Vera Attorneys at Law in Panama
Kovalenko & Vera Attorneys at Law in Panama

Coronado, Panama

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SJB Global

SJB Global is a top-rated financial advisory firm specializing in expat financial advice worldwide, offering retirement planning & tax-efficient solutions with a regressive fee model.
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SJB GlobalSJB Global

SJB Global is a top-rated financial advisory firm specializing in expat financial advice worldwide, offering retirement planning & tax-efficient solutions with a regressive fee model.
Learn More

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Kovalenko & Vera Attorneys at Law in Panama
Kovalenko & Vera Attorneys at Law in Panama

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