Zapping Zika

I know I promised to follow-up my last posting on the two available pneumonia vaccines with a blog on conjugate vs polysaccharide vaccines, but I think this piece of information is more important right now. I will post about those two different vaccine types in coming weeks.

As some of you know, CDC sponsored a “Zika Summit” two weeks ago. It was an amazing full day conference broadcast on the web. I was fortunate to attend the entire conference. In a future blog I will share some of the highlights as slides from that meeting become available for your review and use.

In the meantime, the CDC is asking that everyone returning from a Zika transmission region- whether they are sick or not- follow insect precautions for three weeks. That means using repellent appropriately after a trip. To my knowledge, this is the first time CDC has ever made this recommendation. And while the recommendation is unusual, the reasoning is simple. CDC wants to prevent local Zika transmission.

Here in the United States we have the Aedes mosquito that transmits Zika (as well as Dengue and Chikungunya); CDC doesn’t want a returning traveler, unknowingly carrying one or more of these viruses, to serve as a local disease reservoir. If an Aedes mosquito bites an infected returning traveler, this mosquito can then spread the virus to other persons who have never traveled to a Zika region – including pregnant women.

As reported in a 2011 ASTMH article by Garcia-Rejon et al. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3042828/  the female Aedes aegypti mosquito is a “nervous feeder” that frequently takes multiple blood meals (usually bites more than one person) during a daily feeding period.  One Aedes mosquito, carrying the Zika virus, could potentially infect 4 to 6 persons each day. A returning traveler who uses repellent appropriately, wears long sleeves, etc. can reduce the risk of a mosquito bite and help prevent a local outbreak here in this country.

So go get your supply of repellent for the warm weather ahead! And remind your travelers to use it both during and after their journey …

For more information on this and other ways to prevent Zika, go to the CDC site http://www.cdc.gov/zika/prevention/

Best Regards,

Gail Rosselot, NP, MPH, COHN-S, FAANP