Zika Virus Updates

Zika Virus Fact Sheet

Brenda Fitzgerald, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health, has issued this letter regarding the Zika virus, outlining awareness and prevention efforts.

Because of the health effects caused by the Zika virus disease, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on February 1, 2016. We have been giving you periodic updates from the CDC on Zika and will continue to do so through InsideMGA and the Environmental Health and Safety web page.

We now offer a training module for employees who are interested in learning more about Zika virus and prevention. Please contact Ron Ardelean to be assigned this training.

We want to remind everyone to please take proper precautions when enjoying the outdoors this summer. Zika is a continuing threat to human health and can be prevented by taking the following safety measures:

  • Use insect repellent
  • Dress children in clothing that covers arms and legs. Cover cribs, strollers, and carriers with mosquito netting.
  • Treat clothing and gear with Permethrin (it lasts a long time on clothing – even after a few washes)
  • Use screens on windows and doors in your home.
  • Do not leave any standing water inside or outside of your home. Mosquitos lay their eggs near water. Check tires and buckets left outside, and remove water from them often.
  • Check travel notices regularly before and after a trip. Be aware of the risks of where you are traveling.
  • Remember that a man can pass Zika to his partners during sexual intercourse – take precautions.

Pregnant women are the most vulnerable to Zika, because they can pass the virus to the fetus. Zika can cause severe fetal brain defects including microcephaly, which is a condition where a baby's head is much smaller than expected leading to stunted brain development. A recent study of 45 Brazilian babies whose mothers were infected by Zika revealed that babies born without noticeable damage could possibly experience problems as they grow and develop.

Studies show that children infected with Zika are not at risk for developmental delays. The symptoms of Zika are very similar to other viral infections (fever, rash, conjunctivitis, etc.), and most children who contract Zika will not become ill enough to need medical attention.

There have been approximately 3,988 US cases of Zika reported from travel outside of the country. Of these 3,988 cases, 34 were from sexual transmission and 13 resulted in Guillain-Barre syndrome (immune system disorder). Within Georgia, there have been 96 reported cases of Zika, which is 2% of the cases in the US. While there are zero locally acquired Zika cases in Georgia, there have been 139 locally acquired cases across the United States. Please continue to monitor CDC travel notices.

A group of scientists from Washington University School of Medicine looked at antibodies from people who have recovered from Zika and identified a particular antibody that could possibly be used to protect expecting mothers and their fetuses from contracting Zika virus. This study was published in Nature on October 3, 2016.

The CDC's Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is continuously monitoring information about the Zika outbreak and is coordinating emergency response initiatives. For in depth information about any of these issues, please visit the CDC's Zika web page, your local healthcare provider, or contact Environmental Health and Safety. The CDC posts travel and transmission updates regularly.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2016. Zika Virus. https://www.cdc.gov/zika/index.html.

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. 2016. Guillain-Barre Syndrome Fact Sheet. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/gbs/detail_gbs.htm.

Sapparapu, G., Fernandez, E., Kose, N., Cao, B., Fox, J., Bombardi, R., Zhao, H., Nelson, C., Bryan, A., Barnes, T., Davidson, E., Mysorekar, I., Fremont, D., Doranz, B., Diamond, M., and Crowe, J. 2016. Neutralizing human antibodies prevent Zika virus replication and fetal disease in mice. Nature. http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaap/ncurrent/full/nature20564.html.

The New York Times. 2016. Brain Scans of Brazilian Babies Show Array of Zika Effects. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/24/health/zika-a-formidable-enemy-attacks-and-destroys-parts-of-babies-brains.html?_r=1.