Detroit area health officials prepare to fight Zika

The Zika virus has not been confirmed in Michigan yet, but Oakland County says it has a plan in place should someone be diagnosed with the new disease.

Officials from the county’s Division are to meet with local officials on March 4 to update them on plans in place to fight any mosquito-borne disease.

Also, in June, the health department will watch for the Aedes species mosquito, which carries the Zika virus. That will be part of the county’s current mosquito monitoring program.

County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said in his State of the County address earlier this month that the county would be prepared for the Zika virus.

“I am not waiting for the Zika virus to be identified in Michigan,” Patterson said in his speech. “Oakland County is committing a portion of its budget to combat the virus by continuing to monitor for mosquito-borne disease and informing our residents.”

In Macomb County, officials posted a warning about the disease on the health department’s website.

The Macomb County Health Department warns residents to use insect repellent and wear longsleeved shirts and pants.

Its website reports the virus has been found in Mexico, the Caribbean and South and Central America, and that travelers to those areas who later fall ill should consult with a physician.

“If you get sick after traveling, see your doctor and tell them where you have traveled,” wrote the health department.

In Wayne County, a spokesman for the county Department of Health, Veterans Community Wellness said the agency is monitoring residents for possible cases.

But the department hasn’t experienced any cases, said the spokesman, Lloyd Jackson.

The Detroit Medical Center has set up a hotline for pregnant women who travel to the Zika-affected countries.

The women can have their questions answered by calling (888) DMC-3370.

The hotline will be staffed from Monday to Friday from 8 a.m.-7 p.m.

On Saturday and Sunday it will be staffed from 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

Zika virus has been linked to microcephaly in newborns, a condition where a baby’s head is much smaller than expected. In the countries where the virus has been reported, pregnant women are urged to avoid being bitten by mosquitos.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended travel precautions for pregnant women who are planning trips to countries where the virus has been reported.

The Health Division will also distribute posters to OB/GYNs in the county about the virus, as well as post them at county parks, camps and outdoor facilities.

“These cautionary efforts will help ensure communities know the best ways to prevent mosquito-borne illnesses,” said George Miller, director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Information about the Zika virus and Oakland County’s preparations can be found at oakgov.com/health, on Facebook at Public Health Oakland or on Twitter @publichealthOC.

Article source: http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/oakland-county/2016/02/20/detroit-area-health-agencies-prepare-zika/80677082/

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