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What to know about the Zika virus

  • Category: News
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Tom Dearing

The Ashland-Boyd County Health Department is working with us and other healthcare providers in our community to monitor for potential Zika virus cases in travelers returning from countries with active virus transmission. Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon. However, it is particularly dangerous for pregnant women and their babies.

The regional epidemiologist is working with us, along with state and local partners, to provide education on mosquito-borne illnesses, including Zika Virus. If you are planning on visiting a listed country, please visit for the latest information. If you are a church or other civic group planning a mission trip to one of these areas, please contact the regional epidemiologist or local health department for more information: (606) 329-9444 ext. 2232, or

Countries with active transmission:

  • Barbados
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Cape Verde (Africa)
  • Colombia
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • French Guiana
  • Guadeloupe
  • Guatemala
  • Guyana
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Martinique
  • Mexico
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Puerto Rico
  • Saint Martin
  • Samoa
  • Surinam
  • U.S. Virgin Islands
  • Venezuela

Patrick Villafuerte, M.D., infectious disease physician at King’s Daughters, says people should remain aware of these points:

  1. If you travel to countries listed make sure to protect yourselves from mosquito bites.
  2. We are still learning about this virus and there is a lot we don't know, but we know that the main route of transmission is via mosquito bites. It’s still unclear if it can be transmitted by other methods.
  3. There have been cases in the U.S. brought by travel out of the country, but as far as we know our mosquitoes do not have the virus yet.
  4. I you traveled to the listed countries and your are trying to get pregnant, it might be a good idea to hold off on getting pregnant until you are passed the usual incubation period - about two weeks.
  5. Please stay updated and watch out for news and advisories.

Key points from the Ashland-Boyd County Health Department

  • Anyone who has recently (two weeks ago or less) returned from a listed country and who has at least two of the listed signs/symptoms should contact their primary care provider for evaluation.
  • The CDC is currently only testing pregnant women for Zika virus but you may also need to be evaluated for other common tropical mosquito-borne illnesses such as Dengue or Chikungunya virus.
  • All testing is coordinated by the regional epidemiologist and the local health department in each county with guidance from the Kentucky Department for Public Health.
  • Pregnant women with recent (two weeks ago or less) travel to a listed country should consult with their OB/GYN about potential risks associated with Zika virus.
  • Pregnant women should consult their OB/GYN immediately if they develop signs and symptoms (two weeks or less after travel) so that testing can be ordered
  • Persons who have recent travel (two weeks ago or less) and signs and symptoms should abstain from outdoor activities for at least one week after the onset of symptoms
  • These precautions are especially important if traveling to an area where mosquitoes are not dormant for winter.
  • Persons who are planning to travel to a country with active transmission should take steps to prevent mosquito bites.
  • When traveling to areas where mosquito may be active:
    • Wear long-sleeved shirt and long pants
    • Stay in places that use air-conditioning or have window screens
    • Use a repellent containing DEET
    • Reapply as instructed on bottle
    • Sleep under a mosquito net or in a room with window screens
    • Wear clothing treated to repel mosquitoes