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Zika Virus: 5 Things You Need to Know
In November, Texas health officials announced the state’s first likely case of Zika virus that was locally transmitted. Elsewhere in the U.S., Florida is also a state where cases of Zika have been locally transmitted by bites from infected mosquitoes. Here are five things you need to know about Zika:
- Zika is a viral disease spread by a certain type of infected mosquito through vertical transmission from a pregnant mother to her unborn baby. There are also reports that Zika can be transmitted through blood transfusion, sexual exposure or laboratory exposure.
- The species of mosquitoes that can carry Zika virus exists in some southern states of the United States, including Maryland.
- Zika is usually a mild illness that requires no specific treatment, but it can cause serious birth defects, such as microcephaly, or other neurological conditions.
- If a pregnant woman contracts Zika, it can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly. An infant born with microcephaly typically has a smaller than normal head size and incomplete brain development. There is also now evidence that Zika may cause other fetal development problems in pregnancy.
- Johns Hopkins Medicine and Johns Hopkins University employees who plan to travel to Zika-affected areas should refer to the travel policy posted on CEPAR’s website (hopkins-cepar.org). If you plan to travel and are trying to get pregnant or are pregnant, you should talk to your health care provider before traveling.