Zika For the Rest of Us

Friday February 12, 2016

•  emergency management •  public affairs •  public health •  Zika virus • 

We keep hearing about Zika virus, and in pregnant women, can cause microcephalic births. That’s pretty scary, but as a man who is not planning on having any children any time, I am not sure what this means to me. And Zika has been been confirmed in Maryland, so it’s getting closer. So I wanted to know what the symptoms are and, if you’re not pregnant, what the risks are.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a great website about Zika with a ton of information. But here’s the key details, the symptoms are generally influenza-like. And that means the real influenza, not what is common called the “24-hour stomach bug”, which is usually gastroenteritis. This means with Zika, you’re looking at:

  • joint pain,
  • fever,
  • rash,
  • headache, and
  • muscle pain.

Also prominent, and different from influenza, is conjunctivitis, which will look like pink eye. So if you have this collection of symptoms, stay away from pregnant women, since you might have either influenza or Zika. But here’s the real kicker. Apparently, only about 1 out 5 people with Zika will present it, which means you could be walking about with Zika and never know it.

And remember, when mosquito-season hits in late spring, it’s going to be really bad.

Image by JJ Harrison / Wikimedia.