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Zika Virus Awareness

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  • 82nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron Public Health

The Zika virus has been making headlines, with cases appearing as close as Dallas and recent news that the virus has spread to at least one patient through sexual contact.


The 82nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron’s Public Health Flight is monitoring the situation closely.


“The first thing we want people to know is that if they have plans to travel to the Caribbean, or to Central or South America, they should schedule an appointment with the Travel Clinic before they leave,” said 1st Lt. Chawntel Vega. “While there have been more than 50 cases of Zika reported in the Continental United States, including 10 in Texas, the vast majority contracted it while traveling outside the country.”


The Travel Clinic can provide personalized medical information for you based on your travel location. Call 940-676-1874 or 940-676-3052.


What is Zika?

Zika is a viral disease primarily transmitted by a specific species of mosquito called Aedes. A recent case in Dallas is the first in which a patient was infected through sexual contact, not through a mosquito bite.

Symptoms include generalized rash, fever, joint pain and swelling, red eyes, muscle pain, and headache.  The illness lasts two to 14 days with an average of about six days. No vaccine or specific treatment is currently available. 


Where did Zika Come From?

The first Zika virus outbreak occurred in 2007 on Yap Island, Micronesia.  The virus has since spread to the Americas with transmission documented in 26 Western hemisphere countries. 


Is Zika Dangerous?

For most people, Zika’s symptoms and effects are similar to flu and not life-threatening.


However, Zika virus infection has recently been implicated in cases of microcephaly (small brains in babies) and a nerve condition known as Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS).  While the link between Zika infection, microcephaly, and GBS is under investigation, on Feb. 1 the World Health Organization declared a public health emergency of international concern. 


Although Aedes mosquito vectors are present in the U.S., transmission in the US will likely be limited by lifestyle factors such as air conditioning and use of mosquito repellants.  Even so, on Feb. 1 the DoD announced pregnant family members of active-duty and civilian employees in areas affected by Zika virus will be offered voluntary relocation. 


What Can You Do?

There are steps you can take to limit exposure to Zika and other mosquito-borne illnesses:


  • If traveling to a country where Zika is prevalent, talk to your health care provider or call the Sheppard Travel Clinic before you leave.

  • Avoid going outside during time of high mosquito activity, particularly on warm or hot days at dusk and dawn.

  • If you do have to go outside, wear clothing that limits skin exposure and use mosquito repellant.

  • Eliminate sources of standing water, where mosquitos breed, around your home and workplace.

  • The use of protection, such as condoms, is the best method from preventing sexually transmitted infections of any kind.


    For more information about Zika, please contact the 82d AMDS Public Health Flight at 940-676-1874 or 940-676-3052 or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at