First Confirmed Case of Zika Virus in New Brunswick
New Brunswick's Department of Health has confirmed the first case of Zika virus infection in the province.
Acting chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell says an individual recently travelled to an area affected by the outbreak. The person did not require hospitalization after contracting the virus and has recovered from the illness.
Russell says the overall risk to New Brunswickers is very low as the species of mosquitoes that can carry the virus are unable to survive the cool weather in New Brunswick or the rest of Canada.
The Zika virus is transmitted to people primarily through the bites of specific infected mosquitoes. Affected areas include the Southern U.S., Central and South America, the southern and western Pacific, and some African and Asian countries. The mosquito species are not found in Canada or most of the U.S. due to the climate. The virus is not spread person to person.
Russell says travellers to areas affected by the outbreak and to areas at risk of an outbreak can protect themselves against the virus by taking individual protective measures to prevent mosquito bites including using insect repellent, wearing protective clothing, using mosquito nets, and ensuring that doors and windows are screened.
It is recommended that pregnant women avoid travel to areas with a Zika virus outbreak or to areas at risk of an outbreak. If travel cannot be postponed, then strict mosquito bite prevention measures should be followed. Women wishing to get pregnant should wait at least two months after they return from countries where the virus is circulating before trying to conceive.
Transmission of the Zika virus through semen has been reported but is very rare. Men who have travelled to a country with an ongoing outbreak should use condoms with any partner who could become pregnant for six months after their return. It is recommended that men who have a pregnant partner should use condoms for the duration of the pregnancy. To prevent spreading the virus through sex, couples should use condoms consistently and correctly every time they have sex.
Those traveling to affected areas should take the following measures:
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times, as the virus is transmitted by a mosquito that can bite in daylight and evening hours.
- Cover up: light-coloured, long-sleeved, loose fitting, tucked-in shirts, long pants, shoes or boots (not sandals), and a hat.
- Use insect repellent on exposed skin: insect repellents that contain DEET or Icaridin are the most effective, and use as directed by the manufacturer.
- Consider your accommodations: stay in a well-screened or completely enclosed air-conditioned room.
- Sleep under a bed net, preferably one treated with insecticide.
- Apply a permethrin insecticide to clothing and other travel gear for greater protection.
More information on the virus can be found at the Healthy Canadians website.
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