As a travel nurse, you may encounter patients concerned about the Zika virus disease, especially if you are in Texas or Florida. These hurricane-battered states suffered extensive flood damage and have plenty of breeding spots for the disease-carrying bloodsuckers.
Although chillier temperatures will kill Zika-carrrying mosquitos, forecasts of weather in the 80s for a few more weeks could set the stage for an increase in cases.
Most people infected with the virus have no symptoms or only mild ones. The most common symptoms of Zika are:
- Joint pain
- Conjunctivitis (red eyes)
- Muscle pain
Pregnant women with these symptoms, especially if they or their partners traveled to certain locations, need to see a physician for diagnosis as infection during pregnancy can cause a birth defect called microcephaly and other serious fetal brain defects. As of last month, 2,155 pregnant women had lab evidence of Zika virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to the CDC, Texas reported 353 West Nile infections—17 percent of all U.S. cases—resulting in 13 deaths. This year 48 infections and 2 deaths were reported in Texas as of August 29th. Hurricane Harvey could increase those numbers.
Pregnant women or their partners who recently traveled or plan to can check here to learn about areas with confirmed Zika cases.
To help prevent infection, share these ZIKA TIPS with patients:
Zap your chances of getting the virus by avoiding mosquito bites.
Invest in your health by exercising indoors. Heat attracts mosquitoes so sweat inside.
Keep your feet, body and limbs covered. Baggier clothes offer better protection.
Apply repellent correctly. Don’t wear it under clothes. Apply it after sunscreen.
Travel smart. Learn what to do before, during, and after the trip. Visit the CDC.
Identify and eliminate standing water throughout your home.
Protect yourself. The Zika virus can be passed through sex. so be sure to use condoms.
Share this information with family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors.
Zika virus prevention requires awareness and action. Spread the word.