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zika virus

A Cuban worker fumigates an apartment in Havana
Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

State health officials are warning Michiganders headed south on vacation this winter to be aware that Zika is still a major health threat.

The mosquito-borne virus can cause serious birth defects.  The Centers for Disease Control reports people have been infected in Florida, Texas, and Puerto Rico, as well as the Caribbean and South America.

Dr. Eden Wells is Michigan’s chief medical executive. She’s concerned travelers may be less worried because Zika has not been in the news very much lately.

The Asian Tiger Mosquito is a carrier of Zika virus
flicker user coniferconifer / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Scientists have unlocked new information about the Zika virus that could eventually contribute to a possible cure – and in the shorter term, may help create faster, simpler tests for identifying if someone’s been infected with the virus.

That’s especially important with Zika, because the virus itself is thought to leave the body pretty fast; maybe after about a week, says Janet Smith, Director of the Center for Structural Biology at the University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute and a professor of biological chemistry.

The Asian Tiger Mosquito is a carrier of Zika virus
flicker user coniferconifer / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Most people in Michigan don't need to worry about the Zika Virus.

That's what the Ingham County Health Department wants to tell the public through their informational campaign about the virus. The department's campaign hopes to eliminate unnecessary fear of the virus in Michigan.

Linda Vail is the Ingham County Health Officer and she says the only people who should be concerned about Zika are pregnant women since it has been linked to birth defects in babies.

A mosquito
flickr user trebol-a / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

In a normal year, Michigan sees about a couple dozen or so cases of West Nile virus: 18 cases last year, according to the CDC’s map. Just one in 2014. And 36 cases in 2013.

But the state saw some 200 cases in 2012.

And experts at the state health department are worried this year is shaping up to be another surge.  

For one thing, Oakland County just found West Nile virus in one of its testing pools, even though it’s still relatively early in the season.  

Tigers pitcher Francisco Rodriguez, who contracted the Zika virus while in Venezuela during the offseason.
Bryan Green / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Francisco Rodriguez got off to a slow start in 2016, allowing three earned runs in his first appearance of the season. His list of excuses, however, is rock solid: He may have still been fighting the long-term effects of the Zika virus.

 

The Asian Tiger Mosquito is a carrier of Zika virus
flicker user coniferconifer / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The state of Michigan is beginning diagnostic testing for three viral diseases: Zika, dengue, and chikungunya.

Each of these is carried by mosquitos, which many Michiganders know are all too common in the summertime. 

Dr. Eden Wells, the chief medical executive for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, joined Stateside to tell us more about the testing and how concerned Michiganders should be.

A mosquito
flickr user trebol-a / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

If you live in Michigan, you probably don't have to worry about the Zika virus. 

The virus usually causes fever, rash, or joint pain, and is rarely bad enough to send someone to the hospital or prove fatal. Pregnant women have the most to worry about: if a mother gets infected, the fetus could become malformed. 

Zika gained national attention about a year ago when there was a confirmed case in Brazil. Then, in February of this year, the World Health Organization declared the virus a "Public Health Emergency of International Concern." 

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

 

Cuba’s heralded health care system has been mobilized to stop the Zika virus from gaining a foothold in the country, and so far, the campaign appears to be a success.

The virus is spread by Aedes Aegypti,  the same species of mosquito that spreads dengue, a painful and often debilitating illness.

Cuban officials have ordered mandatory fumigation of every apartment and house to kill the mosquitos.  Our own apartment in Havana was fumigated today.

James Gathany/PHIL-CDC / public domain

Health officials are warning Michiganders traveling to certain countries on spring break to bring plenty of 20% DEET mosquito repellent.

The CDC says there are outbreaks of Zika virus in many countries in the Carribean, Central and South America, and the Pacific Islands.

"People usually don't get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika," says Jennifer Eisner of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.  But she says Zika has been linked to a severe birth defect, microcephaly. 

Sanofi Pasteur / creative commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan health officials say they've confirmed the state's first case of the Zika virus.

An Ingham County woman experienced Zika-like symptoms after traveling to Barbados.