A Message from the Navy Surgeon General: The Zika Virus

 By Vice Adm. C. Forrest Faison III

VADM Faison - photo - as of 31 DEC 2015Shipmates,

The Zika virus is topic that is front and center in the news lately and I want to assure you that Navy Medicine is fully-engaged on this issue, protecting you and your family.

Zika is a viral infection spread by mosquitoes but there is also risk of sexual transmission. Active transmission of this disease is occurring in the western hemisphere, mostly in South America, Central America and the Caribbean.   The symptoms of Zika are not life threatening however, there have been several cases in which the virus has spread from mother to fetus and has caused serious health issues in newborn children, making it critical that you are taking steps to protect yourselves and those around you to minimize risk of exposure, infection and transmission.

Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our people. Our first priority is to ensure we offer the best possible care to any Navy Medicine patient in the safest way possible. Our team is closely monitoring the situation, following Centers for Disease Control guidelines and collaborating with our public health partners to protect our patients, our staff and our communities.

Prevention is paramount. The most effective way to avoid prevent infection is avoiding unnecessary travel to Zika-affected areas. If you absolutely must travel to an area where Zika is prevalent:

  • Choose a hotel with air conditioning and screened door and windows.
  • Sleep under a mosquito net if you’re outdoors or in an area that isn’t well screened.
  • Wear a long sleeved shirt and opt for pants instead of shorts or skirts.
  • Use EPA-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, or IR3535, all of which are safe for pregnant women when used as directed.
  • Use permethrin-treated clothing and equipment.
  • Abstain from or avoid unprotected sexual contact with those who may have been exposed.

If you’re pregnant we recommend you postpone your trip and follow the CDC’s guidance for travel to these areas.

Be smart about your travel and take precautions. Be smart about your personal protection. Be smart about your sexual activity. . If we’re smart and do what is necessary to protect ourselves, I’m confident we can conduct our mission safely and effectively. Navy Medicine is committed to protecting your health and ensuring your readiness. Help us help you!

For More Information on Zika visit:

http://www.med.navy.mil/sites/nmcphc/program-and-policy-support/Pages/Zika-Virus.aspx