One hundred and sixteen cases of the Zika virus have been confirmed in the United States in the recent outbreak of this mosquito-carried virus, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). AFC Urgent Care/Family Care stands ready to educate you and your family on how to stay well in the face of this virus, and to aid potential carriers should an outbreak occur in the Eastern Tennessee region.

“Zika virus disease (Zika) is caused by Zika virus that is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito,” says the CDC. “The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito.”

Although the Zika virus was discovered in 1947, the illness was not considered a prominent threat to Americans until 2016. With a large majority of the public just recently learning about Zika and how it can be contracted, AFC Urgent Care/Family Care is here to help.

“While the Zika virus is often transmitted through mosquito bite, that is not the only way to acquire the virus,” said Dr. Todd Rudolph, Medical Director with AFC Urgent Care/Family Care of East Tennessee. “Other ways that the Zika virus can be transmitted include blood transfusion from mother to child and sexual involvement with someone who has the virus.”

Pregnant mothers are at a particular risk as the Zika virus has been linked to a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly. Other birth defects caused by Zika include poorly developed brain structures, defects of the eye, hearing deficits, and impaired growth.  For these reasons, expectant mothers and women planning to conceive must be especially cautious of contracting the Zika virus.

Ways you can prevent contracting the Zika virus include:

Avoid mosquito bites. As there is no vaccine for the Zika virus, avoiding the insect that spreads the virus is key. Application of insect repellent is the easiest way to do this, but always be sure to apply insect repellent after applying sunscreen.

Avoid sexual activity.  If you or your partner have recently contracted the Zika virus, remaining abstinent for a time is the most foolproof way to avoid sexual transmission.  

Avoid risky travel. Check the travel warnings specific to the Zika virus, and if you are concerned about contracting it, adjust your travel plans to avoid heavily infected areas. An extensive list of heavily infected areas is available on the CDC website.

To learn more about how AFC Urgent Care/Family Care walk-in clinics can help serve your medical needs, and for more information on the Zika virus and other current health warnings, please visit one of our three convenient locations in Hixson, Cleveland, or Chattanooga.