While no cases of Zika virus have been found in Delaware County, officials from the Delaware General Health District are urging Delaware residents to take precautions.
Ohio currently has four confirmed cases of Zika virus in the state, the state health department said Friday. Up to 10 people in neighboring Franklin County have reportedly been tested.
Travis Irvan, an epidemiologist at the Delaware General Health District, and Adam Howard, the residential services and program manager at the health district, spoke to an English as a Second Language class Friday afternoon at the Orange Township branch of the Delaware County District Library and went over some basics facts about the virus.
“Only one in five people will show symptoms,” Irvan said. “But those symptoms included a mild fever, rash, joint pain, red eyes and headaches.”
The health district reports symptoms typically appear two to seven days after mosquito bites and last up to a week.
“There’s no evidence to suggest long-term effects,” Irvan said.
Irvan also said there are only a few specific ways the virus can be transmitted: transmission from person to person, via mosquito bite, a blood transfusion or sexual transmission.
Irvan said the reason Zika virus has gained such attention is because officials believe there is a link between Zika and microcephaly, a birth defect causing abnormal smallness of the head and Guillain-Barré Syndrome, which causes the immune system to attack nerves.
Irvan clarified that the link is “not concrete” and said babies in the womb are the only ones at risk of microcephaly and Guillain-Barré.
Howard added that the two types of mosquitoes that spread the disease, Aedes Aegypti and Aedes Albopictus, lay their eggs in standing water. Howard said residents should empty out containers that have had stagnant water for a few days and should create ripples or waves in ponds to cause the mosquito eggs to drown.
Howard said the health district should be contacted at 740-368-1700 if residents believe mosquitoes are breeding in the standing water on their property and the health district will come investigate, at no cost.
Irvan and Howard said that pregnant women planning on going outside in mosquito season should use repellents containing DEET or Picaridin, and wear light-colored long-sleeved clothes so they can better spot mosquitoes that land on them.
More information about Zika can be found on the Delaware General Health District’s website.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.