APHA’s Get Ready Report podcast recently spoke with Ben Beard, PhD, branch chief for the Bacterial Diseases Branch in the Division of Vector-Borne Disease at the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, to find out how to protect ourselves from the disease.
Since 2015, more than 8,500 people in U.S. states, territories and Washington, D.C., have been diagnosed with Zika, according to CDC. Most of those cases have occurred in Puerto Rico, where a public health emergency was declared last week.
Beard shared information that can benefit all Americans, especially pregnant women, travelers, outdoor workers and people living in areas where Zika might be spreading. Zika can be spread by mosquito bites, through sexual contact or from a pregnant woman to her fetus during pregnancy or delivery.
Beard recommended that Americans protect themselves from Zika by:
- using mosquito repellent and wearing clothing to cover their arms and legs,
- avoiding travel to places where Zika is being actively transmitted, and
- protecting themselves during sex by using condoms or other barrier methods.
Beard said that public health professionals have an important role to play, especially as parents and kids begin back to school plans.
“There is a really unique opportunity for public health authorities, as school seasons start, to work with schools to make sure that risk of Zika transmission can be minimized,” Beard said. “Public health authorities in school districts can proactively and collaboratively establish direct communication channels and clearly define each partner’s roles and responsibilities.”
Listen to our podcast with Beard now.