Are You at Risk for Zika? - Melissa Clements, MD - Oklahoma City
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Are You at Risk for Zika?

Are You at Risk for Zika?

It is hard to miss the recent news about Zika virus. The mosquito-borne virus was mostly affecting Latin America and the Caribbean is spreading with cases of Zika having been diagnosed in children and adults in central Oklahoma.

Let’s review findings that might alert you to the possibility of infection with the virus.

  • Areas where Zika is endemic include Africa, SE Asia, the Pacific Islands,
    South America, Caribbean, and Puerto Rico.
  • Zika is most often acquired from the bite of an infected mosquito.
  • Bites occur most often during daylight in populated areas with stagnant water.
  • Approximately 20% of infected people develop symptoms that begin about 10
    days post-bite.
  • Symptoms are those of a mild to moderately severe flu-like
    illness, including headache, low-grade fever, chills, red eyes, mild to
    moderate joint pain (mostly small joints), muscle aches, and a rash. All
    symptoms resolve within a week.
  • The rash associated with Zika is bright red and comprised of small spots
    which may be flat or raised.  It usually begins on the face and spreads over
    the body. It begins to fade within 2 or 3 days and resolves within a week.


There is evidence of viral transmission from infected mothers to babies as
well as through sexual intercourse. Current recommendations include
avoidance of conception for six months after known infection. Associated
conditions include infantile microcephaly (small brain) and intracranial
calcifications (calcium deposits in the brain). Any pregnant woman with
significant travel history or suspected of Zika infection should apprise her
doctor so that appropriate diagnostic studies can be undertaken.

Protective clothing including long sleeves and pants should be worn in
endemic areas. (I’m a dermatologist… had to see that recommendation
coming!) Clothing made of insect repellant fabrics is readily available. The
use of insect repellent containing DEET is important. Mosquito netting an
important and inexpensive adjunct in avoiding Zika and other mosquito borne

While there’s no clear solution to treat and stop Zika, we can be smart and proactive!