Greetings from the University Health Center,
Welcome back to campus! I hope that everyone had an exciting summer. I’m writing to keep the campus community informed on Zika cases in our area, prevention efforts taken by the University, and what you can do to address this public health issue.
ABOUT ZIKA: Zika is a virus spread by mosquito bites. The mosquitos that spread the infection bite mostly during the daytime. Mosquitos can also spread other viruses like West Nile Virus, dengue and chikungunya. To date, 85 cases of Zika infections have been identified in Maryland. These 85 people caught the virus during travel. To date, there have been no locally spread Zika infections reported in Maryland. Here are some important facts to know…
- There is currently no vaccine against Zika.
- In some who are infected, Zika causes rash, fever, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild and requires no treatment.
- In pregnant women who are infected with Zika, the infection may pass to her fetus (unborn baby) and the infection can cause a problem called microcephaly (a birth defect causing a small head and brain damage).
- Zika can be passed through sex from a person who has Zika to his or her partners. Condoms can reduce the chance of getting Zika from sex. Condoms include male and female condoms.
- Local spread of Zika has been reported in two Miami areas.
UNIVERSITY MEASURES: This University has taken steps to limit the breeding of mosquitos by working to eliminate areas of standing water and treating or inspecting other mosquito breeding areas.
MOSQUITO BITE PROTECTION: We continue to recommend that you avoid mosquito bites by wearing loose fitting long-sleeved shirts and long pants, staying in air conditioned places, using screens on windows, applying insect repellant, and staying away from mosquito breeding areas (like containers of standing water). An “EPA-registered insect repellant” is recommended by the CDC, generally containing a chemical called “DEET.” Here is a useful link with information about protecting yourself and your family.
TRAVEL ADVICE: Pregnant women should avoid travel to the Miami Beach and Wynwood, Florida areas. Partners of pregnant women should consider postponing travel to this area. Travelers should be aware of Zika and use condoms to avoid the spread of Zika. The University Health Center will be watching for cases of Zika and will be working with local and state public health authorities to manage any occurrences.
David McBride, MD
Director, University Health Center