Men, wear your rubbers. Even if you have no symptoms
If you have travelled to one of 25 countries where Zika virus is spreading rapidly, or if you are planning to attend the Summer Olympic Games in Rio, stock up on condoms. Get any brand, style, size or type of condom, plus cool posters, key chains and reminders at GlobalProtection.com
Public health warnings related to mosquito bites and birth defects intensified this week. Leading national and international health organizations now advise men possibly bit by mosquitos carrying the virus to use condoms. At least three cases of sexual transmission have been confirmed. CDC says, so far, there is no evidence of transmission from an infected woman to a sexual partner. Zika virus has not spread to the US; but experts expect local transmission in southern states. The day-biting skeeters that spread Zika like tropical climates. Local spread is already reported in US territories — Puerto Rico. Virgin Islands, American Samoa. Health officials say there is virtually no risk of Zika coming to Washington state or Canada.
Zika is barely noticeable in adults, devastating to developing babies
Mounting evidence links the Zika virus to microcephaly, usually defined as head size two standard deviations smaller than the mean for age, size and gender. Last week Brazilian researchers found evidence that the virus attacks developing babies in the womb. It seems to target nerve cells causing brain damage and developmental disabilities. Seattle Times health reporter Jonel Aleccia interviewed Dr William Dobyns of Seattle Children’s Hospital after he reviewed brain scans from Brazilian babies. He found an “extremely rare, recognizable pattern” of severe cerebral palsy, epilepsy and feeding problems.
From a health literacy standpoint, “Use a condom” is understandable and actionable. Condoms are inexpensive, readily available, and require no prescription. In some countries, governments are giving away condoms. Earlier, still standing, advice telling women to avoid pregnancy, is understandable but not actionable in Zika-infected countries where women have very limited access to birth control and abortion and little protection from sexual violence.
What to tell a woman who travelled to a Zika-infected area,
or had sex with a partner returning from a Zika-infected country: “See your doctor right away.” CDC recommends that women with symptoms get a blood test, but at this point only a few advanced labs can do the test. It is not known whether babies of women with no symptoms become infected. Knowledge is advancing rapidly. Advice will continue to change. Stay tuned.
For up to the minute reliable information: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/pregnancy/index.html