Zika Virus Information


County approves Zika prevention efforts

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issues historic travel warning

Intercommunity Health Zika Information Web Page

Efforts to protect residents against mosquito-borne diseases, included the dangerous Zika virus, continue in Delaware County where Senior Medical Advisor Dr. George Avetian stressed the national call for all pregnant women to be tested for Zika.

At the Aug. 3 Delaware County Council meeting, Council approved a $46,789 grant application to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to continue its mosquito surveillance and control program, which now tests for both West Nile virus and Zika virus.

The vote came two days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an unprecedented travel warning advising pregnant women and their partners not to travel to the Miami area of Florida, where Zika is actively circulating. This is the first time the CDC has warned people not to travel to an American neighborhood for fear of catching the infectious disease.

“This DEP grant will enable the Delaware County Penn State Extension technicians to trap, test and treat as necessary for mosquitoes that may carry the Zika virus,” said Lori Devlin, director of the county’s Department of Intercommunity Health. “This grant will also cover the cost of additional needed equipment and allow us to provide public outreach and education to the community.”

As concerns over Zika spread throughout the country, Dr. Avetian provided an update and addressed possible concerns of local residents, particularly women who are or may become pregnant.

He said there are 1,658 confirmed human cases of Zika in the United States. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DoH), there are 61 confirmed cases in Pennsylvania

He said the CDC now advises all pregnant women to be tested for the Zika virus whether they have traveled or not, and they should not travel to areas listed on the CDC travel advisory.

Devlin said Zika Prevention Kits are available to pregnant women at the Pennsylvania State Health Center in Chester. They include insect repellent, permethrin spray, condoms to prevent transmission from infected males, and tablets that treat standing water to kill mosquitos.

“We know this is a concern for our residents, especially people who are planning vacations to southern Florida or the Caribbean,” said County Council Vice Chair Colleen Morrone, Council’s liaison to Intercommunity Health. “We have always had a mosquito surveillance program for West Nile virus, and now this grant allows the county to provide additional surveillance, which is necessary as the Zika virus inches closer to our area.”

To date, there have been no positive Zika mosquito tests in Delaware County, but residents are reminded to take precautions to eliminate any breeding ground for mosquitos and to protect themselves against mosquito bites.

News of the Zika virus ramped up in May 2015 when the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infection in Brazil. The outbreak in Brazil led to reports of Guillain-Barre syndrome and pregnant women giving birth to babies with birth defects and poor pregnancy outcomes.

The CDC announced on Feb. 2 that Zika had been sexually transmitted in Texas, marking the first known case of the virus being locally acquired in the continental United States. The case, announced by Dallas County health officials, involved a patient who had sex with someone who recently returned from Venezuela and was infected with the mosquito-borne virus.

The Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. It was first identified in the Zika forest of Uganda in 1947. About 1 in 5 people infected with Zika will get sick. The typical symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week.

For more information about the Zika virus, travel warnings and prevention, visit www.cdc.gov/zika.