How to protect yourself from Zika - - Jackson, MS

How to protect yourself from Zika

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT

Zika Virus is a dangerous virus that is spread though mosquitoes.

The Deputy State Epidemiologist tells us how you can protect yourself this summer.

"We have had a number of travel associated cases already in Mississippi," said Deputy State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers. "We just reported our fifth one."

Byers said that for people in Mississippi, the Zika virus is really only dangerous if they travel to South America, Central America, the Caribbean and areas where the virus is being transmitted.

For those who have traveled to these locations, there are ways you can protect yourself. 

While there is no vaccine to prevent Zika, travelers can protect themselves by taking steps to prevent mosquito bites. When traveling to countries where Zika virus has been reported:

  • Use insect repellent.
  • Wear long sleeves and pants.
  • Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
  • Sleep under a mosquito net if you are overseas or outside and are not able to protect yourself from mosquito bites.

"It is important for folks to understand that if travelers go to these areas, there are some precautions they need to take when they come home." Byers said. "Primarily what we want them to do is to avoid mosquito exposure up to three weeks after they return from travel."

This is not a virus that makes people very sick and 80 percent of people infected, don't feel any symptoms. For those who do have symptoms, they are relatively mild, such as a fever or a rash.

"It is important for certain people no to travel to those areas where there is an on going transmission and that is pregnant women," said Byers. "We know that Zika has been linked to cause some pretty severe birth defects."

Research has uncovered the virus can be sexually transmitted. Experts recommend people coming back from infected areas should not have sex for at least eight weeks after returning.

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