A lot of states are talking about plans to defend against a Zika virus outbreak. Arizona is doing something about it.
“We are at high risk for imported cases,” Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, told public health leaders during Tuesday’s Arizona Zika Action Plan Summit.
The Zika virus, which has been circulating widely in Latin America, does not usually cause problems for adults but can lead to a serious birth defect called microcephaly.
Three Maricopa County residents who traveled to Latin America have been diagnosed with Zika infections and state officials expect more cases this summer.
According to Cronkite News, “Arizona has had three confirmed cases of Zika, diagnosed in Arizona residents who contracted it while traveling outside the country. More than 140 people have been tested, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. The state has the type of mosquito that carries the virus but it has not been detected in mosquitoes, health officials said. “This is a different mosquito,” said Dr. Christ. “It primarily likes people, it lives around people, and it bites all day.”
The Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association (AzHHA) was one of the nearly 350 partners from every corner of our state that attended the summit. We sent out numerous tweets to keep Arizonans, who were unable to attend, informed about the latest plans to defend against Zika in our state.
We have done a number of blogs about Zika over the past several months and will continue to update you with the latest information on the virus. Much of the concern, and talk at the recent statewide summit, has centered around the risk to pregnant women. With that in mind, the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) now provides educational materials to prenatal care providers throughout our state regarding the virus including the most current recommendations.
The materials include:
- Prenatal care provider recommendation letter,
- Zika fact sheet for prenatal care providers, and
- Zika virus testing algorithm.
Public health officials say one of the best things we can do to prevent the Zika virus is to protect ourselves from mosquito bites. That includes:
- avoiding travel to any of the infected regions;
- wearing long pants and long sleeve shirts;
- using an effective insect repellant; and
- making sure there is no standing water to serve as a breeding ground.
Let us know what you think about the proactive approach Arizona is taking in developing a plan to battle the Zika virus. Will a summit, like the one just held, help us figure out new ways to keep people in our state informed and better prepared as we move into summer? Creating conversations around the important health topics in our state is another way we hope to one day reach our goal of making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!