Zika virus: Stay up to date on the facts

Experts continue to learn more about Zika. Check out these facts and resources to use for staying current on Zika developments.

 Zika virus nurse with patient

What is Zika?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Zika is a disease caused by Zika virus. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly, as well as other severe fetal brain defects.

In addition, a condition called Guillain-Barré syndrome, a disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the nervous system, can be triggered in a small proportion of people infected with Zika. Also, recently, a potential link between Zika and acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM), a condition that can result in an MS-like syndrome for up to six months, has also been described.

It’s important to understand that Zika can affect anyone, not only pregnant women.

For important Zika information, view this video message from Dr. Yogi Hernandez, Vice President & Chief Medical Officer with Humana’s Care Delivery Organization.

Who is at risk?

  • Anyone who has sexual contact with another person who has contracted the virus (whether or not the infected person is experiencing symptoms)
  • Anyone who lives in or travels to an area affected by Zika

Because additional potential Zika transmission modes are being investigated, you should check the CDC Zika site for updates.

How is it transmitted?

Although Zika is transmitted through infected mosquitos, it can also be spread through sexual contact. Much is still being learned about Zika, and other potential modes of transmission are being investigated. Learn more on the CDC Zika Transmission & Risks page.

Until information about Zika transmission is fully known, it is good practice to be vigilant about common hygiene, such as hand washing and using gloves when handling or being exposed to bodily fluids.

If you have questions or suspect you have Zika, talk to your doctor.

Where is it?

Zika is not just a risk where mosquitos thrive. Rather, because Zika can be transmitted through sexual contact, it can be spread to any geographic area. Stay on top of information about areas with Zika, including a map of cases reported in the United States. If the Zika virus is in your area, check out what the CDC suggests you do.

Prevention tips

The CDC offers the below guidance on preventing the transmission of Zika:

  • Sexual prevention
  • Practice good hygiene – wash hands, using gloves when being exposed to bodily fluids
  • Use EPA-registered insect repellant; note that the species of mosquito carrying the Zika virus can bite humans at any time of day or night
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
  • Stay in places with air conditioning or window and door screens
  • Remove standing water around your home

For a full list of ways to prevent contacting the virus, visit the CDC’s Zika Prevention page.

Zika testing

The CDC recommends Zika virus testing for people who may have been exposed to Zika through sex and who have Zika symptoms. A pregnant woman with possible exposure to Zika virus from sex should be tested. Learn more on the CDC’s Testing for Zika page. For questions, talk to your doctor.

Traveling to affected areas

The CDC suggests that pregnant women and partners of pregnant women who are worried about potential exposure to Zika should consider postponing nonessential travel to exposed areas.

If you’re thinking of getting pregnant

How long should you wait before trying to have a baby? The CDC recommends:

Possible exposure from recent travel or sex without a condom with a man:

  • Women: Women with Zika symptoms should wait at least 8 weeks after symptoms; Women with no Zika symptoms should talk to a doctor or healthcare provider.
  • Men: Men with Zika symptoms should wait at least 6 months after symptoms start; Men with no Zika symptoms should wait at least 8 weeks after exposure and talk to a doctor or healthcare provider.

People living in areas with Zika:

  • Women: Women with Zika symptoms should wait at least 8 weeks after symptoms; Women with no Zika symptoms should talk to a doctor or healthcare provider.
  • Men: Men with Zika symptoms should wait at least 6 months after symptoms start; Men with no Zika symptoms should talk to a doctor or healthcare provider.

How Humana is responding

Recent CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden has reported that the Zika virus is expected to be endemic in the United States, meaning that it will be ongoing for a long time. Humana recognizes that Zika is a concern for its members and is working actively to stay aware of its progression and take appropriate measures to help members.

Resources

  • Check the CDC Zika site frequently for new information as it becomes available.
  • Sign up to receive Zika updates on your phone with the CDC's text messaging service – Text PLAN to 1-855-255-5606 to subscribe.
  • Refer to CDC Zika Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).
  • For additional information, talk to your doctor.
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