The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) has been awarded more than $3.6 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) over the next five years to protect Hoosiers from Zika virus disease.
The funds are being used to investigate illnesses, conduct mosquito surveillance and laboratory testing, support mosquito control and public health preparedness efforts and increase awareness of the Zika virus. The grants also include $2 million, which will be received in $400,000 annual increments, to fund a program manager to oversee microcephaly tracking efforts in Indiana, an application developer to support improvements to the Indiana Birth Defects and Problems Registry, and nurses who will conduct case reviews for any infants identified with microcephaly.
Zika is a mosquito-borne illness that has been predominantly found in tropical locations, including Central and South America, the Caribbean and Puerto Rico. Currently, 27 Indiana residents have acquired Zika while traveling to affected areas. No cases of Zika acquired from local mosquitoes have been reported in Indiana.
“While most people who get infected with Zika have mild symptoms or might not even know they’re sick, Zika is a serious concern for pregnant women and their babies because of the risk of microcephaly and other health complications,” said State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H. “We have been working diligently to educate Hoosiers about their risks at home and while traveling and to ensure that Indiana is prepared for Zika should we see local transmission here.”
Indiana residents can protect themselves from Zika and other mosquito-borne illnesses by following the steps below:
· When possible, avoid places and times when mosquitoes bite.
· Use insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), or IR3535.
· Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks and hats.
· Stay and sleep in screened or air-conditioned rooms. Ensure all screens are in good repair.
· Use a bed net if the area where you are sleeping is exposed to the outdoors.
· Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear.
· Eliminate standing water in and around homes and ensure that water is removed weekly from potential breeding grounds, such as tires, buckets, pet bowls, birdbaths and flower pots. Even a bottle cap can hold enough water to act as a mosquito breeding ground.
· Repair cracks or gaps in septic tanks and cover open vents or plumbing pipes.
About Zika infection:
Zika virus is transmitted by the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus mosquito. Only Aedes albopictus is typically found in Indiana.
Most people infected with Zika do not experience symptoms. About 1 in 5 will have a mild, self-limiting illness characterized by fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (pinkeye). There is no vaccine or specific treatment currently available for Zika.
Zika has been known to cause birth defects including microcephaly, in which a baby’s head is smaller than expected. Babies with microcephaly often have smaller brains that might not have developed properly. Because of this risk, the CDC has urged pregnant women to avoid travel to areas with active Zika transmission, including an area north of downtown Miami. Sexual partners of pregnant women are advised to take precautions to prevent mosquito bites and sexual transmission. The latest CDC guidance can be found at www.cdc.gov/zika.
To learn more about Zika virus in Indiana, visit www.isdh.in.gov/zika.
For important health and safety information, visit the Indiana State Department of Health at www.StateHealth.in.gov or follow us on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/isdh1.