If you’ve been following the news recently, you know that not only is the Zika virus spreading rapidly over Latin America, but that it has also reached the United States and its territories with 15 reported cases locally transmitted in Miami this week alone. Zika is spread through bites from the Aedes species of mosquito, which is most active during the day.
If infected, the virus can result in serious birth defects, such as microcephaly, if women contract it during their pregnancy or around the time of birth and transfer it to their fetus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), men can spread the disease to their male or female sex partners through sexual contact. Currently, there is no vaccine or medicine to prevent the onset and spread of the Zika virus.
See our Q&A with Dr. José Brea Del Castillo, current president of The Latin American Association of Pediatricians, to learn more about this disease.
While scientists and government officials work on combating Zika, there are precautions you can take now to protect yourself and your family now and in the long term if you pregnancy planning. If you are traveling this summer, please visit the CDC Travelers’ Health website. There is also guidance for people who live in or traveled to Wynwood, a neighborhood in Miami any time after June 15.
To help you learn more, the CDC, the National Institute of Child and Health Development (NICHD), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), offer a number of resources on how to prevent the spread of the virus.
If you’re a podcast fan, the CDC has produced several focused on what people can do to stop Zika in its tracks. For example, Zika Prevention: Do Your Part is a special series about how to protect against mosquitos and the virus. The podcasts are available in English and Spanish.
You can also use the widget below to find more specific resources on the CDC site.
The NICHD has also launched a multi-country study called Zika in Infants and Pregnancy. The study, being done in conjunction with Brazil’s Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, will analyze the risks the Zika virus poses to pregnant women and their developing fetuses and infants. The study’s authors are looking to enroll 10,000 pregnant women in their first trimester, and then to follow them throughout their pregnancies. The infants will then be monitored for the first year of their life.
The NIH also has a trove of information available in Spanish. Through the NIH Spanish Health Information Portal, Spanish speakers can find information on how the virus spreads, how it affects overall health, and how to prevent transmission.
NIH is also hosting a workshop September 22–23, 2016 at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center. The workshop will help attendees identify treatment and care approaches for children who have been exposed to Zika while in the womb. Register for the conference today.
Finally, the folks at Sesame Street have produced videos in English and Spanish that feature Elmo and Raya explaining what Zika is and how to prevent it. Watch them below and share with your friends and family.
Together, we can stop Zika.