Zika Virus and Recommendations for the Norwich University Community
Zika virus has been a top story in the news over the past few weeks and the World Health Organization (WHO) recently declared Zika virus an international public health emergency. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a travel alert, advising pregnant women (and women who could become pregnant) against travel to roughly two dozen countries, mostly in the Caribbean and Latin America where the epidemic is growing. We wanted to share background information and relevant recommendations regarding the outbreak.
The virus was discovered in 1947 in the Zika forest in Uganda and is relatively common in Africa and Asia. It only began to spread to the western hemisphere last May when an outbreak was discovered in Brazil. Few people in the western hemisphere have immune defenses against the virus which is why it is spreading so quickly. Zika virus is mosquito-borne and typically transmitted to humans via a bite from the Aedes mosquito (the same mosquito that transmits the dengue virus). This mosquito is not found in Vermont and experts do not expect there to be any transmission of Zika virus in the northeast region of the United States.
Infection itself is typically associated with fairly mild symptoms and it is estimated that 80 percent of those infected with Zika virus are without symptoms. Symptoms typically include fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). There is currently no vaccine or other preventative medication for Zika virus. There is growing evidence of a possible connection between infection with the virus and a severe birth defect called microcephaly and this is the reason the CDC issued a travel alert for all pregnant women or women who could become pregnant. There are other disease correlations possible that are currently being researched.
Updated information regarding transmission and travel recommendations, including a map that specifically outlines the geographic areas of the epidemic, is found on the CDC website.
If you have any specific questions about travel to these regions or if you have traveled to these regions in the last two weeks and are exhibiting any of the symptoms above, please call the infirmary at 802.485.2552. We will update the community as more relevant information becomes available