Do you have questions about Zika virus? Please submit your questions to NIHB using the box below. Relevant questions will be answered and posted anonymously. You can also submit anonymously, but consider providing your contact information if you would like additional assistance or information from NIHB.

What is Zika Virus?

Zika virus was first discovered in 1947 and is named after the Zika Forest in Uganda. In 1952, the first human cases of Zika were detected and since then, outbreaks of Zika have been reported in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands.

The Zika virus is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito, but can also be spread through sexual activity. Many people infected with Zika will not have symptoms, but people who do have symptoms may experience fever, rash, joint pain, headaches, muscle pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week. However, Zika virus infection during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage or can cause a baby to be born with Congenital Zika Syndrome, a pattern of serious birth defects which may include severe microcephaly, hearing and vision difficulties, and other health problems.

Zika is currently a risk in many countries and territories and transmission has occurred in the United States.

Basic information about Zika can be found here. Information about Zika prevention is available here.

Why is Zika a Problem?

Zika can be transmitted primarily through mosquito bites, from mother to child, through sexual activity, from blood transfusion, and through lab or healthcare settings (although this is extremely rare). Considering the unique ways that the Zika virus is transmitted, all Tribes should remain vigilant in their Zika preparedness efforts, regardless of geographic proximity to vector range and local transmission. Travel-associated cases bring another avenue for possible local transmission.

Zika is a serious concern because it can cause such devastating birth defects. It is also linked to a rare disease of the nervous system called Guillain-Barré Syndrome.

To mitigate the impacts of the virus in the U.S., prevention and response efforts must be robust and holistic. Tribal nations are frequently left out of state or local emergency preparedness plans resulting in potentially life-threatening gaps in coverage during times of public health threats. It is critical that Tribes take early steps in developing strategic plans and partnerships for mitigating the potential dangers of an outbreak in Tribal communities.

American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities are already among the most at-risk for tick- and mosquito-borne diseases. This is demonstrable through the disproportionate impact Rocky Mountain spotted fever and West Nile virus have had on Tribal communities where AI/ANs experience higher exposure and infection rates than the general U.S. population. Additionally, the risk of new vector-borne diseases being introduced into Tribal communities on the U.S.-Mexico border is high. It is imperative that Tribes begin taking action now to plan for this emerging public health concern.

Resources

 


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NIHB ZIKA WEBINARS
 


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FACT SHEETS & RESOURCES
 


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PREVENTION PLANNING & MITIGATION
 


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AREAS THAT MAY BE IMPACTED
 


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ZIKA VIRUS FAQ
 


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CURRENT NEWS AND UPDATES
 


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ZIKA PREGNANCY REGISTRY
 


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CONGRESSIONAL ACTION
 


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ZIKA NEWSLETTER

Information from the CDC



 

NIHB Contact:

Carolyn Angus-Hornbuckle, JD
Director of Public Health Policy and Programs

National Indian Health Board
910 Pennsylvania Ave, SE
Phone: 202-507-4089
Washington, DC 20003
[email protected]

 

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