As a resident of Washington, DC you may be wondering…  What is your risk for contracting Zika virus?

We have all heard about the risks of travelling to the tropical areas of the Caribbean, Central and South America.  We have heard from athletes who are avoiding the Olympic Games this summer in Brazil due to the risk of being infected by a mosquito bite while there.  We know that the Zika virus can also be transmitted by sexual contact with someone who has the virus.  This past week we also learned that there are likely two cases of Zika in Florida (they are being confirmed) where the patient did not travel out of the country nor did they have sexual contact with anyone who did.  These are believed to be the first two cases in the continental United States where the infection came directly from a mosquito on US soil.  We have also learned of a case in New York State where for the first time we have confirmed transmission of Zika from a woman who returned from the tropics, and had sexual contact with her male partner that day of return. She developed symptoms the next day and her partner developed symptoms a few days after that.  And more concerning, we learned of a case in Utah, where a family member who was caring for someone with Zika developed the virus themselves.  Research is still being done to determine the method of transmission in that case.  We are still learning about the virus and transmission every week as scientists around the world are looking into it.

What do you need to do to reduce your risk?

  • The type of mosquito that transmits Zika (Aedes) is active both day and night and it lives in our area.  Each mosquito does not travel far and often lives its entire life in or around one home.  So wear an effective insect repellent when you’re outside, make sure your window screens are in good repair so that you don’t invite mosquitos into your home, and avoid having standing water in the area around your home (anything that catches and collects water from a toy to furniture to a low area in the yard).
  • Use a condom with each sexual encounter. Unless you are in an exclusive long term monogamous relationship you should be using barrier protections- male or female condoms or dental dams.
  • If you are not using reliable birth control- get started now to avoid the possibility of transmitting Zika to an unborn child.  Even in a monogamous relationship, if a partner in the relationship is capable of becoming pregnant then condoms should be used if a partner travels to tropical areas of the US (like Florida), Central or South America.

So stay educated through trusted sites such as the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and read future blog posts from us about Zika, Dengue, and Chikungunya disease.  If you or someone you know has questions about risk or possible infection call for an appointment or have a walk in visit to assess your risks or start testing and treatment if necessary.  Kelly Goodman Group is here to help.