Virus Found In Common Destinations For New Mexicans
The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) announced the launch of a summer campaign to educate the public about Zika virus prevention. The campaign focuses on providing information to pregnant women and their partners who may be considering travel to areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.
The prevention efforts are being supported by television and radio spots throughout New Mexico as well as billboards and movie theater advertising.
“Our message is that if you or your partner are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, please consider postponing travel to areas where Zika virus is actively spreading,” said Department of Health Secretary Lynn Gallagher. “If you must travel to those areas, take every precaution that you can to avoid mosquito bites while you’re there.”
Zika virus is currently transmitted in areas of the world which are common travel destinations for New Mexicans, including Puerto Rico, the Caribbean Islands, most of Mexico, Central and South America, and parts of Asia and Africa.
Zika virus infection is mainly acquired through the bite of an infected mosquito. The mosquitoes are infected by feeding on a person who has the virus.
According to NMDOH, New Mexico had 10 reported cases of Zika virus disease in 2016, and, so far, no reported cases of Zika virus disease in 2017. Of the 10 cases in 2016, all were in travelers who were infected abroad and were diagnosed after they returned home.
However, there are six counties in southern New Mexico — Doña Ana, Chaves, Eddy, Sierra, Lea and Roosevelt counties — where two of the mosquito species capable of transmitting Zika were found while conducting mosquito surveillance in 2016.
“Because Zika is also transmitted via sexual contact, a traveler that returns with the virus in their blood can transmit it to their sexual partner if they have unprotected sex, and that is another way a person in New Mexico can get infected,” said Dr. Michael Landen, state epidemiologist. “If a person returns to New Mexico with the virus in their blood to one of the New Mexico counties where we have the Zika mosquitoes, then there’s a chance that a mosquito can get infected after biting that person and begin local transmission in that area.”
The campaign features a significant investment in materials and outreach efforts to English and Spanish speaking populations in New Mexico and is supported with funds provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For more information on Zika virus visit the NM Department of Health.
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