• By Deborah Balzer

Transmission of Zika Virus and Dangers of Mosquitoes

February 4, 2016

photograph of a female Aedes albopictus mosquito The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the spread of Zika virus through blood transfusion and sexual contact has been reported. Zika virus is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes genus mosquito — the same mosquito that spreads dengue and chikungunya viruses.

Mayo Clinic infectious diseases specialist Dr. Pritish Tosh says, "It is important to remember the primary mode of transmission is from an infected mosquito in an endemic area. This is not the first case of suspected sexual transmission of Zika virus. The CDC is developing guidance to prevent transmission to pregnant women."  Dr. Tosh adds, "The general public is not at risk of complications from the virus. Eighty percent of those who develop Zika virus are completely asymptomatic, and the infection does not cause problems for those who are not pregnant."

Watch interview with Dr. Tosh

The birth defect microcephaly has been linked to Zika virus.  Microcephaly is a birth defect that may result in serious defects and fetal demise. There may also be a link to Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), a rare disorder in which the body's immune system attacks the  nerves. The CDC continues to work on this to determine if Zika and GBS are related.

Dr. Tosh says, "Zika infection continues to be a public health concern, mainly due to the risk it poses to pregnant women and their unborn children if the mother is infected during pregnancy. Pregnant women should take precaution to avoid infection by avoiding travel to endemic areas and using mosquito repellant if they must travel to those areas that are affected by the mosquito-borne illness."

The CDC has issued a travel health notice and asks pregnant women to consider postponing travel to any area where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.

See earlier posts with sound bites with Dr. Pritish Tosh:

WHO Says Microcephaly-Zika Virus Link International Emergency   (2/1/2016)

Mayo Clinic Minute: Zika Virus   (1/21/2016)

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