Zika Virus Reported In Puerto Rico: 10 Things To Know About This Mosquito-Borne Disease

zikavirus
Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. Gustavo Frazao/ Shutterstock.

Puerto Rico has reported the island's first case of Zika virus, a mosquito-borne illness recently linked to the rise of microcephaly, a neurological disorder among newborns that has been commonly reported in Brazil According to the World Health Organization, Zika fever was first discovered in Uganda in the 1940s. The virus is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is the same insect responsible for the spread of yellow fever, dengue and chikungunya.

"I wanted to inform the public that my office just spoke with officials from Centers for Disease Control‎ and Prevention (CDC), who advised us that the first locally-transmitted case of Zika virus has been confirmed in Puerto Rico. Like chikungunya and dengue, Zika is transmitted by certain types of mosquitoes. I expect that the CDC will issue a public advisory later this afternoon, and the Puerto Rico Department of Health will hold a press conference to explain Zika and its potential symptoms. I also expect that CDC experts will travel to Puerto Rico in early January to educate local physicians on Zika, so they can properly diagnose and treat the virus," Puerto Rican Congressman Pedro Pierluisi said in a statement, "There is no reason for alarm, and the public should continue to take commonsense steps to avoid mosquito bites."

What is the Zika virus? Here are the things you need to know about this mosquito-borne disease:

1. Zika virus is transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes and it was first found in Uganda.

2. Due to the possible link between Zika virus infection and birth defects, pregnant women are encourage to be particularly alert in preventing mosquito bites.

3. After the virus spread through Africa and parts of Asia, it has made its way to Latin America.

4. In December 2015, Puerto Rico reported its first confirmed Zika virus case. With the recent outbreaks in the Pacific Islands and South America, the number of Zika cases among travelers visiting or returning to the United States will likely increase.

5. Because the Aedes species mosquitoes that spread Zika virus are found throughout the world, it is likely that outbreaks will spread to new countries.

6. The disease has similar clinical signs to dengue, and may be misdiagnosed in areas where dengue is common.

7. There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika disease. Treatment is focused on relieving the symptoms.

8. Symptoms usually begin 3 to 7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. It includes mild fever, rash, muscle pain, joint pain, headache, pain behind the eyes and conjunctivitis.

9. Once a week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out items that hold water, such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, or trash containers to prevent infections.

10. Prevent mosquito bites by using insect repellents and wearing appropriate clothing such as long sleeves and pants, and stay in places with air conditioning and door screens.

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Juliana Barrera

Juliana Barrera started her mass communications career in the entertainment business at Estefan Enterprises, where she successfully participated in a variety of projects related to production, marketing and public relations for the company. She worked for three years as a writer and editor at La Vox Media group, the platform for an independent voice for Hispanic America. Additionally, she completed an internship at VIACOM  engaging audiences through pro-social initiatives. 

Juliana is a graduate student from Florida International University, her major is mass communications  and she has a minor in psychology. Her work has been published by HuffPost LatinoVoices, Latin Times, VOXXI, politic 365, La Opinión and others.