Ask A Pharmacist

Should I Worry About Zika?

Our Customers Asked:

Should I be worried about Zika and what should I be using to prevent it?

Our Experts Answered:

Here’s the short answer: As long as you’re not physically in an area that’s been reported to have an active Zika virus transmission, you don’t need to worry too much (at least not on a day-to-day basis).

With that said, you should still be aware of how Zika can impact you, especially if any member of your family or social circle travels. And if you’re planning to become or are pregnant, you should definitely be cognizant.

“If you’re planning to become or are pregnant, you should definitely be cognizant.”

As they say, knowledge is power. Read on to learn the important basics of Zika to inform yourself of what the virus actually is and how it’s possible to get in contact with it.

What is Zika and how do people become infected?

Zika is a virus that’s primarily transmitted by a specific mosquito species: Aedus Agypti. If this mosquito bites an infected person, it can spread the virus to others it bites. Experts say these pesky mosquitos can go from person to person fairly quickly. There’s also been some evidence that the virus can be sexually transmitted.

The Zika virus is known to stay in body for at least one week. To ensure it’s out of your system, you can get yourself checked out. Your healthcare provider can give you a blood or urine test to confirm.

What are the consequences of getting Zika?

The main reason why we’re concerned about the Zika virus is its link to microcephaly, a disorder that causes babies to be born with development issues and, most noticeably, with uncharacteristically small heads. You’ve probably seen this image time and again in the media when Zika first became a nationwide concern.

While many affected people don’t see physical symptoms, those that do share some common symptoms that generally manifest after about two weeks from being infected.

  • Mild fever
  • Skin rash
  • Joint pain
  • Red eyes
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache

Now, these symptoms are quite common, so don’t fear if you find yourself feeling achy or feverish. Again, unless you’ve been bitten by a mosquito or had sexual contact with someone who may be infected, you’re likely safe. If you have all of these symptoms at once and think you might be affected, you can easily get tested.

What precautions can I take to avoid the Zika virus?

There is no vaccine or treatment for Zika, so the best thing to do is take the right precautions and/or avoid it altogether. Follow our tips to stay Zika- and worry-free!

1. Stay updated on the areas that currently have Zika. Don’t fret—you don’t need to compile dozens of newspaper articles to figure out where Zika has been identified. You can simply follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “Area with Zika” page.

2. If you’re planning to become pregnant, are pregnant or are living in the same household as someone who is, avoid traveling altogether to areas with Zika warnings.

3. If you’re traveling for leisure, avoid the areas with Zika if you can. If you must, however, follow these preventative measures:

  • Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants. If you want to be extra cautious, the Environmental Protection Agency has approved permethrin-treated clothing for safe wear (it’s essentially clothing that is treated with an insecticide).
  • Use an effective insect repellant on all exposed areas, including hands and neck. You can also spray repellant over clothes, but don’t spray underneath.
  • Reside in air-conditioned rooms that have screens on all windows and openings.
  • After you’ve returned and you have any suspicion you might be affected, get tested. You’ll feel better knowing for sure!

Now don’t you feel better already being armed with this knowledge?