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Zika Virus

Zika is a disease caused by a virus primarily transmitted through the bite of infected Aedes mosquitoes. Most people who are infected with Zika do not develop symptoms. About one in five people infected with the virus develop the disease and symptoms are generally mild. Anyone who lives or travels in the impacted areas can be infected. For printable facts and information on Zika and mosquito control, visit:  http://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/files/zikafaq.pdf (English); http://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/files/zikafaqsp.pdf (Español); http://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/files/zikafaqhc.pdf (kreyòl ayisyen)

To learn more to protect employees working outdoors, visit http://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/files/zikaosha.pdf (English) and http://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/files/zikaoshasp.pdf (Español).

The most common symptoms of Zika virus are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Symptoms typically begin two to seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. It can also be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth. We do not know how often Zika is transmitted from mother to baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth.

In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infection in Brazil. The outbreak in Brazil led to reports of Guillain-Barre syndrome and pregnant women giving birth to babies with birth defects and poor pregnancy outcomes.

Those who recently traveled or plan to travel to areas where Zika transmission is ongoing, including, but not limited to, Miami, Florida and the countries of Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Barbados, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, U.S. Virgin Islands, Jamaica, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Panama could be at risk. For the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list of countries, visit: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices.

Potential for Birth Defects

While Zika generally presents as a mild illness, there have been reports of serious birth defects to infants whose mother contracted the virus while pregnant. Microcephaly ( http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/birthdefects/microcephaly.html), a condition in which a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age, and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers are now linked to the virus.

Health care providers are required to report individuals with known or suspected Zika virus infection.

Zika, and many other mosquito-borne illnesses are considered "mandatory reports", meaning that health care providers are required to report individuals with known or suspected Zika virus infection to the Division of Public Health (DPH). This includes anyone with known or suspected Zika, but reporting is especially important in the cases of pregnant women, as well as newborns and infants born to women with known or suspected Zika infection.

Because of the similar geographic distribution and clinical presentation of Zika, dengue, and chikungunya virus infection, patients with symptoms consistent with Zika virus should also be evaluated for dengue and chikungunya virus infection, in accordance with existing guidelines.

To report a case of Zika virus or for further information, call the DPH Office of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at 302-744-4990 or fill out one of the forms below and fax or email to the Office of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at 302-223-1540 or reportdisease@state.de.us.

Providers are also encouraged to contact a DPH infectious disease epidemiologist prior to collecting specimens as all testing must be pre-authorized. At the time of this call, the epidemiologist will gather necessary travel and clinical history and assist with specimen coordination if testing is authorized.

Travel and Transmission Advisories

  • If you are pregnant, postpone travel to the locations where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. If your sexual partner has traveled to or lives in an area with active Zika virus transmission, barrier methods (condoms, dental dams) should be used for the duration of the pregnancy. Although no cases of woman-to-woman Zika transmission have been reported to date, these recommendations regarding the use of protection now extend to the female partners of pregnant women. Discuss your partner's potential exposures and history of Zika-like illness with your doctor.
  • If you are trying to become pregnant and have been diagnosed with Zika virus or have symptoms of Zika, wait at least eight weeks after symptoms first appeared before trying to conceive. Men who have been diagnosed with Zika virus or have symptoms are advised to wait at least six months after symptoms first appeared before having vaginal, oral, or anal unprotected sex.
  • Men and women who do not have symptoms of Zika but had possible exposure through recent travel or sexual contact should wait at least eight weeks after possible exposure before trying to conceive in order to minimize risk.
  • If your partner lives in an area with active Zika transmission but has not developed symptoms, use barrier methods for sex while there is active Zika virus transmission in the area. Sex includes vaginal, anal, and oral sex, and may also include the sharing of sex toys.
  • If you are pregnant or may become pregnant and must travel to an area with Zika, talk to your doctor first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip. If you traveled to an area with active Zika virus transmission up to eight weeks before your pregnancy was confirmed, discuss your travel history with your doctor.
Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant can find more information by visiting:

Mosquito Information and Prevention Strategies

The mosquito that most commonly transmits Zika (Aedes aegypti), as well as dengue and chikungunya, is very rare in Delaware. But we do have another Aedes species of concern for possible transmission of Zika, the Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus.

Local Zika transmission via a mosquito is possible during mosquito season but it depends on a variety of factors. Regardless of the type of illness, the message is the same for every mosquito season and during travel: always protect yourself from bites. There are too many serious mosquito-borne illnesses to risk a bite.

To prevent mosquito bites:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents. All EPA-registered insect repellents are evaluated for effectiveness.
    • Always follow the product label instructions.
    • Reapply insect repellent as directed.
    • Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.
    • If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent.
  • If you have a baby or child:
    • Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months of age.
    • Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs, or
    • Cover crib, stroller, and baby carrier with mosquito netting.
    • Do not apply insect repellent onto a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, and cut or irritated skin.
    • Adults: Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child’s face.
  • Treat clothing and gear with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated items.
    • Treated clothing remains protective after multiple washings. See product information to learn how long the protection will last.
    • If treating items yourself, follow the product instructions carefully.
    • Do NOT use permethrin products directly on skin. They are intended to treat clothing.
  • Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are overseas or outside and not able to protect yourself from mosquitos.

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Last Updated: Monday August 22 2016
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