Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498
Date: November 22, 2016
DOVER, DE (Nov. 22, 2016) - As temperatures drop outside and holiday travel plans to warmer climates heat up, the Division of Public Health (DPH) reminds you that as Zika is being found in an increasing number of countries stopping a mosquito bite is still the best protection against the disease. Packing bug spray and clothing that protects against mosquito bites is as important as packing sunscreen and a bathing suit.
Delaware now has 16 Zika cases, including one not previously announced in an adult male with travel back and forth to Puerto Rico. All cases were caused by mosquito bites while traveling abroad. All but one of the Delaware Zika cases are in adults and none is pregnant. Of the 16 Delaware cases, nine are in New Castle County, three are in Kent County and four are in Sussex County. Anyone who is traveling abroad and gets bitten by a mosquito carrying Zika virus or has unprotected sex with someone who has been exposed to the virus (which could include anyone who lives locally), could get the disease. That same Delawarean could return home and spread it here through sexual activity or during pregnancy. To prevent spreading Zika during sexual activity, barrier methods (condoms, dental dams) should be used.
Women who are trying to become pregnant and have been diagnosed with Zika virus or have symptoms of Zika, should wait at least eight weeks after symptoms first appeared before trying to conceive. Men who have been diagnosed with Zika virus or have symptoms are advised to wait at least six months after symptoms first appeared before having vaginal, oral, or anal unprotected sex. For an updated list of countries impacted by Zika visit: www.cdc.gov/zika.
"Zika remains an ever-growing threat and we are concerned that people will forget about the need to protect themselves while traveling over the holidays," said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. "We are still telling pregnant women to avoid countries where Zika transmission is active, and their sexual partners need to be tested if they recently traveled to those areas. If the sexual partner has confirmed Zika, the couple should abstain from sex or use condoms and other barrier methods until the baby is born." Adding Department of Health and Social Services Cabinet Secretary Rita Landgraf, "Last week the World Health Organization announced it was shifting its approach to Zika from a 'public health emergency' to one of a long-term fight. This is not to say that Zika is any less problematic or potentially dangerous, but instead says that Zika is spreading so rapidly and, with no vaccines available soon, we must view this as needing an aggressive response over a period of years, not something that can be eradicated in a matter of months." To reduce the risk of mosquito bites while traveling, use Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellents; stay in places with air conditioning or that use window or door screens to keep mosquitoes outside; sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are outside and not able to protect yourself from mosquitoes; treat clothing and gear with permethrin available in pharmacies or purchase permethrin-treated items; and wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
Zika is a generally mild illness caused by a virus primarily transmitted through the bite of infected Aedes mosquitoes. About one in five people infected with the virus develop the disease, and most people who are infected do not develop symptoms. The most common symptoms of Zika virus infection are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). However, while it is often mild, Zika has been linked to serious birth defects in infants whose mothers were infected during the pregnancy and rare but serious health complications in adults.
To learn more about Zika and Delaware, visit http://dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/zika.html
Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant can find more information by visiting:
A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person's spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit http://delawarerelay.com.
Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.
Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.