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Expat Exchange - Zika Virus in the United States
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Zika Virus in the United States

By Betsy Burlingame

Universal Tax Professionals
Universal Tax Professionals

Summary: The mosquito-borne Zika Virus is a p for people living in the United States. 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 the United States, 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 the United States since its first major outbreak in 2015. This article aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the Zika virus, its prevalence in the United States, its impact on pregnancy, and preventive measures. It also addresses concerns about the virus's contagiousness and its potential risks 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 fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). However, many infected individuals may not exhibit any symptoms. The illness is usually mild, with symptoms lasting for several days to a week. However, the virus can have long-lasting effects, particularly in pregnant women, where it can cause severe birth defects, including microcephaly, a condition where a baby's head is significantly smaller than expected. There is currently no specific treatment or vaccine for the Zika virus.

Where is Zika Most Prevalent in the United States?

While Zika cases have been reported across the United States, the virus is most prevalent in subtropical areas where the Aedes mosquito thrives. This includes states like Florida and Texas, which have reported local mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission. However, the majority of Zika cases in the United States have been related to travel to areas with Zika outbreaks, such as Latin America and the Caribbean.

Zika Virus and Pregnancy

Zika virus during pregnancy can cause severe birth defects, including microcephaly and other brain defects. It can also result in miscarriage, stillbirth, and other complications. Pregnant women are advised to avoid travel to areas with Zika outbreaks and to take precautions to prevent mosquito bites if they live in or must travel to such areas. Sexual transmission of Zika virus is also possible, so pregnant women and their partners need to take precautions if the partner has traveled to an area with Zika.

How do Expats in the United States Prevent Mosquito Bites?

Preventing mosquito bites is crucial in reducing the risk of Zika virus infection. This can be achieved by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, staying in places with air conditioning or window and door screens, using mosquito bed nets, and applying insect repellents approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It's also important to eliminate mosquito breeding sites by removing standing water around homes.

What if I Get Zika Virus in the United States?

If you get infected with the Zika virus in the United States, it's important to seek medical care immediately. While there's no specific treatment for Zika, symptoms can be managed with rest, hydration, and over-the-counter medications for fever and pain. It's also crucial to prevent mosquito bites during the first week of infection to avoid 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 spread from a pregnant woman to her fetus, through sexual contact, and possibly through blood transfusion. It's not spread through casual contact, like touching or kissing a person with the virus.

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

While the Zika virus is typically mild in most people, certain groups may be at higher risk for severe illness. This includes individuals with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS or undergoing cancer treatment. However, the greatest risk is to pregnant women, due to the potential for severe birth defects. More research is needed to understand the full impact of Zika virus on different age groups and individuals with compromised immune systems.

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.


Universal Tax Professionals
Universal Tax Professionals

Universal Tax Professionals
Universal Tax Professionals

Commonwealth Avenue Mall in Back Bay, Boston

SJB Global
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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