According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control, there have been 558 travel-related cases of Zika virus infection and 46 locally transmitted cases in Florida. Most of them have been concentrated in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, and especially Miami Beach. The mosquito-borne virus known to cause birth defects such as microcephaly is no longer just a foreign threat, but is also breeding right here in our home ground. Here’s what you need to know about Zika to protect yourself and your family.
Prevention: The best way to prevent Zika is to prevent mosquito bites using spray repellent and/or wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants outdoors. Zika can also be transmitted through sexual intercourse, so couples who may be pregnant should be extra cautious.
Symptoms: Common symptoms of Zika include fever, rash, joint pain, red eyes, or muscle pain. Yet many people with the virus will experience very mild symptoms or none at all. If you think you may have Zika, it’s important to seek urgent care from a family practice physician for testing.
Diagnosis: A blood or urine test performed at an urgent care center or family medicine doctor can determine whether or not you have the virus. Pregnant women should be tested with every prenatal check-up appointment.
Treatment: There is no specific medicine or cure for Zika besides treating the symptoms. Get plenty of rest, drink fluids, and take a fever-reducing medication if necessary. Talk to your family doctor if you are currently on any other medications.
Pregnancy: The CDC recommends that any women who have had Zika wait eight weeks before trying to get pregnant. Men who have had the virus should wait six months and be tested again, just as you might be tested for normal testosterone levels between 300 to 1,000 nd/dl. Couples who live in southern Florida should consult with a doctor before trying to get pregnant.
Awareness is an important part of combating Zika in our community. If you still have concerns, check in with your local family practice or urgent care to learn what you can do to prevent or detect Zika in its early stages, and help stem the spread of this debilitating virus.