With mosquito season right around the corner, what threat does the Zika virus pose for the U.S.? Does the virus have the potential to become a nationwide health epidemic? Our latest blog post explores the most recent developments since our earlier Zika post in February.
In January, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention activated its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) for the Zika virus; by February they shifted to level 1 activation, the highest activation level. Since then, the EOC has been monitoring and coordinating the country’s emergency response to Zika by bringing together scientists with expertise in arboviruses (Zika is an arbovirus), reproductive health, birth defects, developmental disabilities and travel health. These scientists have been:
According to Dr. Denise Jamieson, Chief of the CDC’s branch of Women’s Health and Fertility, the immediate risks of the Zika virus are only for women living in locations where mosquitos are currently transmitting the virus, such as Brazil, Colombia, and the Caribbean. Cases reported in the continental U.S. so far have been linked to travel or sexual transmission; mosquitoes aren’t currently spreading the disease in the continental U.S.
Many areas in the U.S. have the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that are responsible for the spread of the Zika virus disease, but a variety of factors have to be in place for a widespread outbreak to occur. Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in the U.S. would have to bite an infected person during the week when the virus can be found in the person’s blood. The mosquitoes would have to survive long enough for the virus to multiply, and for the mosquitoes bite another person. This process would have to be repeated numerous times to cause on outbreak in the continental U.S.; so an outbreak is possible, but not likely.
Even though an outbreak in the continental U.S. is unlikely, there’s still cause for concern. In April, the CDC announced that there was sufficient evidence to suggest that Zika virus infection during pregnancy is a cause of pregnancy loss, and microcephaly and other severe brain anomalies.
They issued an update to their interim guidance for healthcare providers caring for women of childbearing age with possible Zika virus exposure. The guidance includes information related to counseling women and men about possible Zika virus exposure, pregnancy planning, and timing of pregnancy. Recommendations include:
With mosquito season approaching and uncertainty about the possibility of a continental outbreak of Zika, it’s extremely important for nurses and clinical staff to stay informed about the Zika virus.
Lippincott Advisor, the leading point-of-care clinical decision support software for institutions, has recently expanded its Diseases & Conditions content monographs to include the latest evidence-based information about the Zika virus. For more information on how to obtain this resource for your facility’s clinicians, click HERE.