What is the Zika Virus ?
Zika is the virus that causes Zika virus infection. The virus is mainly spread to people through the bite of an infected mosquito. Only certain kinds of mosquitoes are able to transmit the virus that can cause disease. About four out of five people infected with Zika virus will have no signs or symptoms of illness. The people who do become ill may have fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Symptoms are usually mild and last from a few days to a week. It is rare for a person with Zika virus infection to become severely ill or be hospitalized.
Although more investigation is needed, there is some evidence that Zika virus infection may cause birth defects or miscarriage in some pregnant women who are exposed early in their pregnancies. There have also been reports of Guillain-Barré syndrome following Zika virus infection. Guillain-Barré syndrome is a rare but serious disorder that affects nerves and can cause a number of complications including paralysis, respiratory distress, and rarely death.
Are New Mexicans at Risk?
One case of Zika virus infection has been reported in New Mexico in a 46-year-old Bernalillo County man who was infected while traveling in Central America.
There are two mosquito species in the U.S. that can transmit Zika virus: the Aedes aegypti or Ae. albopictus. Both species have been found in some parts of southern New Mexico. If a person gets infected with the virus while in an area with Zika virus transmission and then goes to a part of New Mexico where Aedes aegypti or Ae. albopictus mosquitoes are present, those mosquitoes could become infected with the virus by biting the infected person and could then spread the infection to other people they bite. The New Mexico Department of Health recommends that anyone who has traveled to a Zika-affected area in the previous two weeks protect themselves against mosquito bites by following the precautions listed below.
Also, visit the New Mexico Department of Health website for more comprehensive information about the Zika Virus.
Use an EPA-approved insect repellent. Make sure to follow the instructions on the label so that you use repellents safely.
The following active ingredients provide the longest-lasting protection:
- DEET (up to 30%)
- Oil of lemon eucalyptus
- Para-menthane diol
Visit the following resources to learn more about insect repellents.
- Using Repellent to Protect against Mosquito-Borne Illnesses
- Find the Insect Repellent that is Right for You
- Cover skin with long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Keep mosquitoes out of homes and hotel rooms.
- Choose a hotel or lodging with air conditioning or screens on windows and doors.
- Sleep under a mosquito bed net when outside or in a room that is not screened.
Download the NM Health Department Zika Virus Brochure (English) – here.