April 27, 2017
For More Information Contact:
- Maribeth Brewster, 804-864-7008
(RICHMOND, Va.) – Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced that as mosquito season begins May 1 in Virginia, it is important for people across the Commonwealth to be reminded of Zika virus, a mosquito-borne illness that can seriously affect the health of pregnant women and their unborn babies. The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has created a Zika website (www.ZikaVa.org) to ensure the most up-to-date information is readily available to Virginians and anyone who might be traveling to Virginia, to help them take necessary precautions against Zika virus.
“Everyone has a role to play when it comes to preventing Zika virus and the potential spread of Zika in their community,” said Governor McAuliffe. “The risks of Zika virus to pregnant women and their unborn children are very serious. When you take steps to prevent Zika virus, you are not only protecting yourself, you are helping to protect Virginia’s pregnant women and their babies. By eliminating mosquitoes around your home or business, using EPA-registered insect repellent, and staying informed and adhering to Zika virus travel precautions, you can ensure all Virginians have a safe and healthy summer.”
Although Zika virus illness is usually mild and hospitalization is uncommon, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirms Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects and is associated with other pregnancy problems, including microcephaly. Zika virus infection can also occur through sexual transmission. Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika virus.
“It is important to remember that in addition to Zika virus, mosquitoes carry other viruses, such as West Nile virus and Eastern equine encephalitis virus,” said Secretary of Health and Human Resources Dr. Bill Hazel. “I recommend we all get in the habit of taking healthy steps to eliminate mosquito-breeding habitats and to prevent mosquito bites.”
Since December 1, 2015, VDH has reported 115 cases of Zika virus disease in Virginia residents to the CDC. All Virginia cases are associated with travel to a Zika-affected area. CDC has issued travel notices for people traveling to international destinations and US territories where Zika virus is spreading. CDC has also issued guidance for people traveling to certain areas of Texas and Florida, where local transmission of Zika virus by mosquitoes has been reported.
“Virginia was successful last year in preventing local transmission of Zika within our Commonwealth,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Marissa J. Levine. “A key aim of our ‘Virginia Plan for Well-Being’ is healthy, connected communities. VDH will continue to work with both health care providers and the general public to make sure they have the information they need as we continue to learn about Zika virus and its complications, especially those for pregnant women and babies.”
There are many simple actions people can take to minimize the risk of Zika virus disease to themselves and their communities:
- Tip, Toss and Cover: Tip containers such as garbage cans, pool covers and flower pots that might collect water where mosquitoes could breed; toss outside items that aren’t being used and might collect water; and cover your skin with an EPA-registered insect repellent and long, light-colored clothing, shoes and socks.
- CDC recommends that pregnant women not travel to any area where there is a risk of Zika virus infection; up-to-date travel advisory information can be found on the CDC website.
- It’s important that travelers returning to the U.S. from Zika affected areas of the world take steps to prevent mosquito bites for 3 weeks so they don’t pass Zika virus to mosquitoes that could spread the virus to other people.
- Stay up to date on ways to prevent sexual transmission of Zika virus disease; All pregnant women with sex partners who live in or traveled to an area with risk of Zika should use condoms during sex or abstain from sex for the remainder of their pregnancy; All other couples in which a partner has traveled to a Zika affected area can reduce the risk of sexual transmission by using condoms or abstaining from sex; Please visit the VDH website or the CDC website for the most up-to-date recommendations.
For a list of Zika virus information and prevention measures, visit www.ZikaVa.org.
For traveler’s health information, visit http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-travel-information.