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Expat Exchange - Zika Virus in Peru
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Zika Virus in Peru

By Betsy Burlingame

Universal Tax Professionals
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Summary: The mosquito-borne Zika Virus is a p for people living in Peru. 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 Peru, 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 Peru. This article aims to provide comprehensive information about the Zika virus in Peru, its symptoms, prevalence, and its impact on specific groups such as pregnant women and expats. It also offers insights into prevention methods and what to do if one contracts the virus.

What is Zika Virus?

Zika virus is a mosquito-borne disease caused by the Aedes mosquito. Symptoms typically include fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). However, many people infected with Zika won't have symptoms or will only have mild symptoms. The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week. However, Zika infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly and other severe brain defects. It is also linked to other complications such as miscarriage, stillbirth, and other birth defects. There is currently no vaccine or specific treatment for Zika; care is based on symptoms.

Where is Zika Most Prevalent in Peru?

Zika virus was first reported in Peru in 2016. The virus is most prevalent in the tropical regions of the country, particularly in the Amazonas, Loreto, Madre de Dios, and Ucayali regions. These areas have a high density of Aedes mosquitoes, the primary carriers of the Zika virus. However, cases have been reported in other parts of the country as well, including coastal and mountainous regions.

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 significantly smaller than expected, often due to abnormal brain development. Pregnant women are advised to avoid areas with Zika outbreaks. If travel is unavoidable, they should take strict measures to prevent mosquito bites, such as wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, using mosquito repellent, and sleeping under mosquito nets.

How do Expats in Peru Prevent Mosquito Bites?

Expats in Peru can take several measures to prevent mosquito bites and reduce their risk of contracting the Zika virus. These include using insect repellent, wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and using air conditioning or window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside. It's also recommended to sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are overseas or outside and are not able to protect yourself from mosquito bites.

What if I get Zika Virus in Peru?

If you get the Zika virus in Peru, it's important to get plenty of rest, drink fluids to prevent dehydration, and take medicine such as acetaminophen to reduce fever and pain. Do not take aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) until dengue can be ruled out to reduce the risk of bleeding. If you are pregnant and suspect you may have contracted Zika, seek medical attention immediately.

Is Zika Virus Contagious?

Zika virus is primarily transmitted through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. It can also be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus, and through sexual contact. The virus is not contagious through casual person-to-person contact. However, it's important to note that a mosquito that bites a person with Zika can spread the virus by biting another person.

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

While the Zika virus typically causes a mild illness, certain groups may be at higher risk for complications. This includes individuals with weakened immune systems, the elderly, and children, particularly newborns. In rare cases, Zika has been associated with Guillain-Barré syndrome, a condition in which the body's immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system, in adults. However, the most significant risk is to pregnant women, as the virus can cause severe birth defects.

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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