The State Department of Health in Oklahoma announced Tuesday that it will be working to identify cases of travel-related Zika in the state.
The department says that currently, Zika is not being spread by mosquitos in the United States, but is spreading "aggressively in regions of South and Central America and the Caribbean."
The department says the real risk in Southern states is people who travel to the above areas of the world. "As more travelers acquire Zika virus abroad and summer approaches, there is a potential for localized transmission to occur in the southern US, especially in states where the Aedes aegypti mosquito is plentiful. Collections of this type of mosquito in Oklahoma are not commonly recorded."
"The most significant health risk of Zika virus infection is among pregnant women and their unborn babies. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently established that infection with Zika virus during pregnancy can result in fetal loss or severe birth defects involving the brain."
OSDH says they are implementing measures in Oklahoma, such as screening tools for maternity clinics and protocols for health care providers to assess information on patients to determine if Zika testing is indicated.
In the statement, OSDH says they have confirmed several travel-related cases affecting Oklahoma. "OSDH has received confirmation of four travel-related cases affecting Oklahoma residents through test results provided by the CDC Arbovirus Laboratory in Ft. Collins, CO. One of the Oklahoma cases is a pregnant woman."
Below is a list of precautions OSDH recommends when traveling to one of the area affected.
- Use air conditioning or window/door screens to keep mosquitoes outside. If you are not able to protect yourself from mosquitoes inside your hotel or sleeping place, sleep under a mosquito bed net.
- Use mosquito repellents according to instructions.
- If weather permits, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Treat clothing and gear with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated items
- Help reduce the number of mosquitoes outside your residence, hotel room or workplace by emptying standing water from containers, such as flowerpots or buckets
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