The Zika virus has not had a significant impact on the health of the US population; however, worried patients may still be turning to urgent care providers if they have suspicious symptoms after traveling in affected areas in Latin America and the Caribbean. Still others may have questions about what precautions to take if they have a trip planned. Operators would be wise to be armed with reassuring answers, and to know what to do in the event that a patient could have been exposed. The facts are that Zika is self-limiting and, typically, is not deadly. However, it does appear to be linked to increased risk for giving birth to microcephalic babies in infected pregnant women. The most common symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis; these can last for days, up to a week. Treatment is limited to supportive care for pain and fever. There is no vaccine, but travelers can reduce their risk for contracting Zika by avoiding standing water areas (rich breeding grounds for mosquitos), liberal use of insect repellant that contains DEET, and wearing long-sleeve shirts and long pants. If a physician does suspect a patient has been infected with Zika virus, contact your state health department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (http://www.cdc.gov/zika/).
Fighting the Zika Virus (and the Zika Frenzy)