The A to Z of Zika

HEALTH

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has issued multiple travel alerts about traveling to countries that may have outbreaks of the mosquito-borne Zika virus. Why? (New York Times)

Use our resources to better understand the most effective prevention for Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases.

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers’ Toolkit.

Poster courtesy the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Poster courtesy the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Poster courtesy the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Discussion Ideas

  • What is Zika?
    • Zika is an infectious disease caused by a virus.

 

Flaviviruses are named after yellow fever virus, seen here in an electron microscope image. (Flavus means “yellow” in Latin.) Photograph courtesy the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Flaviviruses are named after yellow fever virus, seen here in an electron microscope image. (Flavus means “yellow” in Latin.)
Photograph courtesy the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

 

  • When was Zika discovered?
    • Zika was first identified in 1947, in the Zika Forest near Entebbe, Uganda. (Where is Entebbe?) It is a common disease in Africa and Asia.
    • The first major outbreak of Zika outside Africa and Asia was occurred in 2007 on the Yap Islands of Micronesia. (Where are the Yap Islands?)
    • The first major outbreak in the Americas occurred in May 2015 in Northeast Brazil. (Where is Northeast Brazil?)

 

Mosquitoes are probably the best-known of the hematophages—animals that consume blood. Learn more about hematophages with our gruesome gallery of bloodsuckers. Photograph by James Gathany, courtesy the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Mosquitoes are probably the best-known of the hematophages—animals that consume blood. Learn more about hematophages with our gruesome gallery of bloodsuckers.
Photograph by James Gathany, courtesy the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  • How is the Zika virus spread?
    • According to the New York Times, “Zika is spread by mosquitoes of the Aedes species, which can breed in a pool of water as small as a bottle cap and usually bite during the day.”
    • Zika can also be spread from a pregnant mother to her fetus, although this is quite rare.
    • There has been one report of possible spread through blood transfusion and one of possible spread through sex.

 

Zika is largely contained to tropical and subtropical regions. Map courtesy the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Zika is largely contained to tropical and subtropical regions.
Map courtesy the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  • I live in the United States. Can I catch Zika virus?
    • Possibly. According to the New York Times, “The aggressive yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti, has spread most Zika cases, but that mosquito is common in the United States only in Florida, along the Gulf Coast, and in Hawaii—although it has been found as far north as Washington in hot weather . . . The Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus, is also known to transmit the virus, but it is not clear how efficiently. That mosquito ranges as far north as New York and Chicago in summer.”

 

  • What are symptoms of Zika virus?
    • Symptoms of Zika virus are very similar to the flu—fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes. Those infected with Zika virus rarely require hospitalization and no deaths have been reported.

 

 

  • Is there a test for Zika virus?

 

Malaria is entirely preventable, but remains a leading cause of illness and death throughout sub-Saharan Africa. According to the World Health Organization, in 2013, an estimated 437,000 African children died before their fifth birthday due to malaria. Blue-tinted long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLINs), draped over sleeping areas, are crucial weapons in battling the disease. Photograph courtesy USAID/Wendy Stone

Blue-tinted long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLINs), draped over sleeping areas, are crucial weapons in battling mosquito-borne diseases.
Photograph courtesy USAID/Wendy Stone

  • Is there a way to prevent Zika?
    • Avoid contact with mosquitoes, which pregnant women in Brazil are doing. Learn more about how Brazilians are dealing with the new threat here.
    • Use insecticide-treated nets, one of the simplest and most effective way to avoid a host of diseases associated with mosquitoes. Learn more about ITNs here.
    • Use insect repellent to keep mosquitoes away. Download this graphic from the CDC for guidance.
      • If you use both sunscreen and repellent, apply the sunscreen first and then the repellent.
      • Do not spray repellent on the skin under your clothing.
      • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
    • Help reduce the number of mosquitoes inside and outside your home or hotel room by emptying standing water from containers such as flowerpots or buckets.

 

  • Is there any cure or vaccine for Zika?
    • No.

 

  • Is there any treatment for Zika?
    • Experts recommend you treat the symptoms of Zika:
      • get plenty of rest
      • drink fluids to prevent dehydration
      • take non-aspirin pain relievers

 

  • Can you catch Zika from an infected person?
    • Yes, indirectly. If you have Zika, strenuously avoid mosquito bites the first week of your infection. Mosquitoes are disease vectors and can spread the disease. During that first week, Zika can be found in the blood and passed from an infected person to another mosquito through mosquito bites. An infected mosquito can then spread the virus to other people.

 

TEACHERS’ TOOLKIT

New York Times: Short Answers to Hard Questions About Zika Virus

Nat Geo: Insecticide-Treated Nets

CDC: Zika Virus

2 responses to “The A to Z of Zika

  1. Pingback: 2017 Emerging Explorers (part I) | Nat Geo Education Blog·

  2. Pingback: Mosquitoes: What’s the Point? | Nat Geo Education Blog·

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