Zika Virus: Maryland Urgent Care Update
The Zika virus has infected hundreds of thousands of people in 60 countries and is expected to infect 3-4 million people within a year. Zika virus “is scarier than we initially thought,” Dr. Anne Schuchat of the CDC told reporters on Monday. Of the thirty US cities at highest risk, Washington DC, Philadelphia and NYC are numbers #16, #15 and #5 respectively.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a public health emergency. Now, in addition to microcephaly we’ve been hearing about, the frightening paralyzing condition called Guillane-Barre has been diagnosed in 400 Zika patients. And an April 11th report in the New England Journal of Medicine reports that the Zika virus may be associated with acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM), an inflammation of the brain and spinal cord.
Is it time to panic?
“Certainly not. But it is time to become prepared and learn more,” according to Dr. Freedman of Evolve Medical Clinics in Annapolis, MD. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases put it this way: “I’m not an alarmist…but the more we learn…the more we look around and say this is very serious.”
What is our risk here in the Maryland?
As of March 30th, the CDC updated the number of states at risk for Zika from 12 states to 30 states. Maryland is now
included. Here in Maryland, we don’t see Aedes aegypti mosquitos–the mosquito which carries the Zika Virus in the Caribbean, Central and South America. But we do have plenty of Aedes albopictus or the “Asian Tiger Mosquito.”
According to the Maryland Department of Agriculture, the Asian Tiger mosquito can cause dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, yellow fever, West Nile virus. And according to the CDC, the Asian Tiger mosquito is perfectly capable of transmitting Zika.
“The level of alarm is extremely high, as is the level of uncertainty,” said Margaret Chan, WHO’s director-general.
Symptoms of Zika
Around 80% of people infected with the Zika virus have either mild symptoms or don’t notice anything at all. The primary symptoms to look for are:
- Fever (usually low grade around 101F)
- Eye pain and redness (conjunctivitis)
- Joint pain (often smaller joints of hands and feet)
If you develop a fever, rash, joint or muscle pain, or red eyes within 2 weeks after traveling to a place where Zika has been vertebrate-hostsreported, you should be seen by your doctor or at an urgent care (to schedule with Evolve Medical Clinics in Annapolis, click here).
According to the CDC, If you are diagnosed with Zika, it is very important that you protect yourself from further mosquito bites to avoid infecting a new mosquito who will then infect a new person and perpetuate the cycle.
What Our Community Can Do
The CDC recommends the following specific measures:
Before mosquito seasons
- Mosquito education campaigns (consider forwarding this article!)
- Remove and dispose of any water holding containers
- Cover, dump, modify or treat large water-holding containers with long-lasting larvicide.
- Reduce adult mosquito resting sites by keeping vegetation trimmed and tall grass cut.
Beginning of mosquito season
- Educate friends/neighbors that during the first week of illness, an infected person can infect mosquitoes, triggering local outbreak.
- Educate friends/neighbors to constantly get rid of water holding containers outside.
- Educate friends/neighbors about reported cases of disease and urge them to use:
- Insect repellents
- Window and door screens to prevent mosquitoes from entering the house
- Air conditioning
- Adult mosquito control
- Don’t forget to treat storm drains, roof gutters, etc
In addition, as a community, we can organize clean-up campaigns targeting disposable containers (source reduction), including large junk objects that accumulate water (broken washing machines, refrigerators, toilets) in buildings, public areas, etc.
If you do become ill and have any doubt, see your primary care physician immediately. If you can’t be seen right away, Evolve Medical Clinics is happy to see you same day by scheduling on-line here or calling 844-322-4222.