The Division of Public Health reminded residents that the Zika virus is active.

The Division of Public Health reminded residents that the Zika virus is active in south and central American countries, southeast Florida and Southeast Asia.

Because there is no vaccine for Zika virus yet, stopping a mosquito bite and practicing safer sex if involved with someone who could be exposed are considered the best protections against the disease.

DPH recently confirmed that Delaware Zika cases are at 17. The most recently announced case involves a female resident of Sussex County, for whom pregnancy is not at issue. All cases were caused by mosquito bites while traveling abroad. All but one of the Delaware Zika cases are in adults. Of the 17 Delaware cases, nine are in New Castle County, three are in Kent County and five are in Sussex counties.

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, including a local in that country, could get the disease. That same Delawarean could return home and spread it in the community through sexual activity or during pregnancy. To prevent spreading Zika during sexual activity, barrier methods should be used.

Women who are trying to become pregnant and have been diagnosed with Zika virus or have symptoms of Zika, are encouraged to 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 unprotected sex.

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; treat clothing and gear with permethrin available in pharmacies or purchase permethrin-treated items; and wear long-sleeved shirts and 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. 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.

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