New concerns raised about Zika as virus spreads

Saturday, January 30, 2016
Zika virus
New concerns raised about the virus and its possible spread.

Concerns are growing about the Zika virus as it continues to spread across the Americas.

Health officials emphasize the virus is primarily contracted through infected mosquitoes, but evidence suggests it could also be sexually transmitted.

"This isn't just about women who are pregnant or want to become pregnant. It also is for the men that are traveling down there as well because they are potentially infectious when they return," said Jay Humphlett, CEO of Vigilint Protective Health Solutions.

Humphlett and his team advise companies on dealing with medical risks, including their employees who must travel to affected countries.

"We're recommending that they try to take long-sleeve apparel, use mosquito repellant that contains DEET. They can buy apparel that is pretreated with mosquito repellant. Ideally they stay indoors in air conditioning or they keep the fans running," he said.


The Centers for Disease Control is warning pregnant women or those thinking about becoming pregnant to not travel to areas with known infection.

Brazil is considered to be the epicenter of the Zika outbreak after an alarming number of babies were born with abnormally small heads and brain damage.

"I think for the average, healthy individual this is not going to be a problem. I do think what's led to increased, and I think appropriate, concern for Zika has been the pregnancy outcomes," said Dr. Cameron Wolfe, infectious disease physician at Duke Medical Center.

There is no immunity or cure for Zika.

Talks of a vaccine are underway, but health experts do not expect one soon.

"Vaccine development is slow. It needs to be slow to be thorough. Zika is not something we have a vaccine for at the moment so realistically we have a multi-year timeline," Wolfe said.

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