Zika virus is in the news. The most important aspect for children is the effects it can have on unborn babies. This virus can cause severe microcephaly (abnormally small head) and severe developmental delays in children who are exposed to the virus prior to birth, from an infection in the mother.
The virus is spread by a specific species of mosquito, and the main areas of the world affected are in Central America and South America. There is a concern that the virus may spread to the southern United States.
The best ways to prevent infections with Zika virus are:

  1. Avoid travel to affected areas (see link for resources) if you are pregnant.
  2. If you do travel to an area where Zika exists, use effective mosquito repellants (the small risks of DEET are greatly outweighed by the risks of Zika virus, so it is OK to use DEET-containing products).
  3. Do not have sexual intercourse with anyone who may be infected (anyone who has travelled to an affected area) OR use a barrier contraceptive method (condoms)

For more important information about affected areas, testing for the virus, and how best to avoid infection, please visit https://www.columbus.gov/zika/