Update on Zika

For Immediate Release

February 29, 2016; 11:30am

DPHSS Release No. 2016-013

Update on Zika

The Department of Public Health and Social Services (DPHSS) continues to monitor the recent reported cases of Zika in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, American Samoa, Tonga, and the Americas.  To date, there have been no confirmed cases of Zika reported on Guam.

Zika is a disease caused by the Zika virus that is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected when they bite a person already infected with the virus.  In addition to mosquitoes, a mother can pass the Zika virus to her fetus during pregnancy, and the virus can also spread when an infected man has sex with his sex partners. 

The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (“pink eye”). Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache. The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) for Zika virus disease is not known, but is likely to be a few days to a week.  See your healthcare provider if you are pregnant and develop a fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes within 2 weeks after traveling to a place where Zika has been reported. Be sure to tell your health care provider where you traveled.  Currently, testing for Zika infection is not locally available; however, the DPHSS released guidelines to health care providers regarding the process of requesting laboratory testing for Zika.

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.  The Zika virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for about a week but it can be found longer in some people.  Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections.

All health care providers are requested to report suspect Zika cases to DPHSS (DO NOT wait for laboratory confirmation).  Zika virus infection is a Class I reportable disease and must be reported by phone to the Office of Epidemiology and Research at 735-7298, or the Bureau of Communicable Disease Control at 735-7154, or after hours to 888-9276.

As our understanding of Zika infection evolves, we will continue to provide the public with updates.  Information on Zika is available in the DPHSS website at http://www.dphss.guamdev.com or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at http://www.cdc.gov/zika/index.html 

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