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To Your Health: NLM update Transcript

Zika virus: Helpful information: 02/08/2016

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Greetings from the National Library of Medicine and MedlinePlus.gov

Regards to all our listeners!

I'm Rob Logan, Ph.D., senior staff, U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Here is what's new this week in To Your Health, a consumer health oriented podcast from NLM, that helps you use MedlinePlus to follow up on weekly topics.

A recent blog from the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ) suggests diverse, helpful sources of evidence-based information about the Zika (mosquito-borne) virus are available for free on the Internet.

The AHCJ blog recommends a good place to begin is a website about the Zika virus from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC). The CDC's website explains the Zika virus spreads through mosquito bites and is currently found throughout Central America as well as some nations in South America. The CDC reports the most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are: fever; rash; joint pain; and conjunctivitis (red eyes).

While the CDC explains the illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week, the current concern is a possible association among the Zika virus, pregnancy, and birth defects.

The AHCJ blog carefully notes a rigorous clinical association has not been established between the Zika virus and the development of microcephaly, a birth defect where infants have smaller than normal heads. While the blog notes an association between the Zika virus and microcephaly is suspected, there is insufficient current evidence to suggest the Zika virus causes microcephaly. A link to microcephaly information on the AHCJ blog also notes infants with microcephaly sometimes have long term developmental and other problems.

Links from the AHCJ website additionally provide specific information about the geographical areas where a risk of Zika infection (from local mosquitos) is possible. The blog also provides a gateway to information for pregnant women and Zika's prevention. The blog recommends a Zika virus Q&A from the CDC, which also is found in the 'start here' section of MedlinePlus.gov's Zika virus health topic page.

In addition, the AHCJ blog contains a link that provides updated information on traveler's advisories as well as fact sheets about the virus' spread from the World Health Organization (the WHO).

There even is a link to information about the mosquitos that spread Zika, who also are responsible for the dispersion of denge and yellow fever.

You can access the AHCJ blog for free by typing 'healthjournalism.org' and entering 'Zika' (Z...I...K...A) in the search box. Then, click on the link: 'Where to turn for the best information about Zika.'

You also can find the latest research about the Zika virus within refereed medical journals by typing 'Zika' within the search box on PubMed. PubMed is accessible by typing 'PubMed' in any search engine.

Incidentally, the WHO recently declared a global public health emergency after assessing the pace of Zika's spread within the Americas. While as of this writing there are no cases of Zika spread by mosquitos within the 50 U.S. states, Americans have been diagnosed with the Zika virus after returning from trips to South and Central America. There are reports of obtaining the Zika virus through mosquito bites in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The CDC also recently advised pregnant Americans not to travel to South and Central America until more information is available about the Zika virus' spread.

Meanwhile, MedlinePlus.gov's Zika virus health topic page helps you stay abreast of additional and updated information about the Zika virus. To find MedlinePlus.gov's Zika virus health topic page, type 'Zika' in the search box on MedlinePlus' home page and then click on 'Zika Virus (National Library of Medicine).'

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A disclaimer — the information presented in this program should not replace the medical advice of your physician. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any disease without first consulting with your physician or other health care provider.

It was nice to be with you. I look forward to meeting you here next week and here's to your health!