Recently the Department of Health in Puerto Rico had a Q&A Facebook Chat Event with several local departments such as Tu Línea de Servicios de Gobierno 3-1-1, Programa WIC Puerto Rico, and Agencia Estatal Manejo Emergencias y Administración de Desastres. Heading the chat was Dr. Brenda Rivera, Epidemiologist for the State and Department of Health in Puerto Rico.
Many of the participants asked questions such as:
- How many people were infected on the island?
- Can you get Zika more than once?
- A list of organic products you should use to protect against Zika?
What is the Zika Virus?
Before we go further with the answer to some of the questions the Department of Health in Puerto Rico provided to the participants, here is the definition that the Center for Disease Control provides us from their website:
Zika virus disease (Zika) is a disease caused by the Zika virus, which is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected. However, Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly, as well as other severe fetal brain defects. Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections.
Because of the tropical environment, we are used to mosquito bites all the time. Some might take this lightly but we need to make sure you have information on prevention.
What can you do to prevent Zika?
The Agencia Estatal para el Manejo de Emergencias y Administración de Desastres is working with the Board of Climate Quality (Junta de Calidad Ambiental (JCA) ) and Department of Solid Waste (Autoridad de Desperdicios Solidos) about fumigating in the different towns in Puerto Rico, picking up old tires, and passing out educational materials on how to reduce breeding areas for these mosquitos.
Some suggestions are emptying out the excess water from plants, not leaving your pets water bowl outside, discarding still water in fountains or house decorations that hold water.
For topical remedies, dress in clothes that are cool with long sleeves, use mosquito nets at night if you don’t have screens on the windows, and use sprays with DEET.
The 3-1-1 Hotline for Government Services also recommends that you call if you see any breeding grounds or if your community needs orientation about the Zika Virus.
For Men who have been bitten and tested positive for Zika, it is highly recommended to use condoms with their partners who are thinking of becoming pregnant and are currently pregnant. The virus is spread through semen and as a precaution men with or without symptoms should used condoms. The Zika virus can be detected in the blood 7 days after you have symptoms because of the virus.
Mothers and Babies
As of May 19th, 2016, the day of the Facebook Chat, there were 925 patients identified with Zika and among them were 128 women who were pregnant. The latest information as of June 23, 2016 has 299 Women registered with Zika; there are 2,162 people that have been tested positive for the virus. According to the Department of Health and the CDC, that number is expected to climb as the summer and year progresses. If you are pregnant and have gotten bitten, ask your doctor to have your blood tested.
When asked about the products you should use whether organic or not, Dr. Brenda Rivera suggested products like OFF with DEET. This is okay for babies to use if they are older than 2 months and she suggested to follow the directions on the product.
If you are looking for a more organic or natural product, Dr. Rivera recommended Eucalyptus/Lemon oil for children ages 3 and older. When it comes to breastfeeding your babies, she also stated that there hasn’t been any case where a Mother passes on the virus through breast milk. It is encouraged to continue breastfeeding if the Mother has tested positive for the Zika Virus.
Puerto Rico Against Zika
You can follow the hashtag #PRContraElZika on Facebook and Twitter for updated information. You can also go to the Department of Health in Puerto Rico’s webpage and their #PRContraElZika page for information in Spanish. The CDC also has information in English and Spanish.
This is a community effort to inform, protect, and educate our clients and families.
If you have questions about medications that you can use for symptoms such as the red eyes or rash, contact us today.