Zika Virus Safety, new Guidelines

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by,

Suzanne Coleman, MD

People in both Ohio and Indiana have recently tested positive for the Zika virus.  These people had recently traveled to countries where there are higher incidences of the virus.  Zika is now known to be in several states in the US.  As such, it makes sense to use caution and educate yourselves about the risks of this virus.  The main concern is that pregnant women who are infected with the virus have a much higher risk of their baby being born with microcephaly, a severe malformation.

I have just received some updated recommendations from the Indiana Dept. of Health regarding how to try and stay safe from the Zika virus while pregnant or planning to become pregnant in the US currently:

This advice is for people whose sexual partners have been exposed to Zika:
Male suspected Zika patients should also be advised to abstain or use condoms during sex (oral, vaginal, or anal) until test results are available.”
I would also add that pregnant patients should avoid contact with female sexual partners who have been exposed as well, or use similar barriers to condoms.
In addition, in order to avoid the possibility of spreading the virus to others around you, they offer this good advice:
“Suspected Zika patients should be advised to avoid mosquito exposure for one week by remaining indoors in an air conditioned or screened environment or by wearing EPA-registered insect repellents when outdoors.”
Earlier recommendations included avoiding travel to areas with high rates of Zika virus infection for those who plan to become pregnant or are pregnant.  There are additional details on this and other situations on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, www.cdc.gov.
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An earlier report can be found here:
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Flu Season is Here

 

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by,

Suzanne Coleman, MD

 

The flu is here, and it’s earlier than usual this year.  I wanted to take a moment to talk with you about the flu because I have found that many people don’t know what we mean when we say “the flu.”  Many people have told me that they think that the flu means they will have stomach problems, like vomiting, and intestinal problems, like diarrhea.  While this can happen, it usually doesn’t happen with the flu.

What we call “the flu,” short for” influenza”, can be caused by many different viruses which can be circulating around among us at different times.  If you catch one of these viruses, the main symptoms are coughing, runny nose, sore throat, fatigue (feeling very tired), fever, achiness, and sometimes headache.

If you are feeling these symptoms, especially if you are older, have other medical issues, or if the sick person is someone very young, you should go to your doctor to see if you can take a medication that can make the illness less severe.  You should go as soon as possible, the medication is best started within the first 2 days of feeling ill.

This winter the flu virus causing most of the illnesses is a strong one, and they recommend that everyone who can, gets vaccinated to help reduce the symptoms of the illness if they do get sick.

Also, it’s very important if you do get sick that you do your best to not pass the virus on to others.  Be wise, stay home from work, don’t go to the store or other places where you might spread the virus to others.  Especially do not visit older people, babies, women who are pregnant, or anyone who is already fighting any type of serious illness; catching the virus could make them dangerously ill and even lead to their death.

Hopefully you won’t get sick, but if you do, take good care of yourself, drink lots of fluids, stay warm, and get well soon.  Medications like tylenol and ibuprofen can be helpful in reducing symptoms like pain, fever, and aches.

I have included a link to the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) weekly flu-tracker website map.  It shows how widespread the flu is in each state, on a weekly basis.  It is interesting and I thought you might enjoy taking a look at it too.

http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/usmap.htm

 

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Please note that the above is for informational purposes only, if you need medical advice, please consult a physician directly.

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