What Do You Really Need to Know About Zika Virus?
by Andrea Tolentino
October 05, 2016 10:10 am
Unless you have been living under a rock, you probably are familiar with the recent Zika virus outbreak that has been spreading across the globe through the bite of an infected mosquito. You may be asking yourself; ‘Does it matter?’, ‘Should I care?’, ‘What should I do to protect my organization?’. Disaster prevention, mitigation, and preparedness are some of the key roles a Business Continuity professional plays within any organization. Due to this fact, Business Continuity managers play a critical role in safeguarding an organization and countering the risks Zika (and other infectious diseases) pose.
Business Continuity teams within an organization can help counter risk of infection and outbreaks of infectious diseases by:
- Ensuring you have an up-to-date Pandemic Business Continuity Plan and a documented strategy in dealing with a widespread dangerous and infectious disease.
- Working with HR to raise awareness about the virus and how to prevent its spread.
- Ensuring managers know the risks and whether business travel is essential to infected areas.
Here are a few things that are helpful to know about Zika:
- Many areas in the US have the type of mosquitoes that can become infected with and spread Zika virus. Also, there have been cases reported in travelers to the United States. With the recent outbreaks in the Americas, the number of Zika cases among travelers visiting or returning to the United States will likely increase.
- The best way to prevent Zika is to prevent mosquito bites by using insect repellent (use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents), wearing protective clothing, and using screens on windows and doors at your home to keep mosquitoes out.
- Zika virus can pass from a mother to the fetus during pregnancy. There have been reports of a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly (a birth defect in which the size of a baby’s head is smaller than expected for age and sex) in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant.
- Returning travelers infected with Zika can spread the virus through mosquito bites. During the first week of infection, Zika virus can be found in the blood and passed from an infected person to a mosquito through mosquito bites. The infected mosquito must live long enough for the virus to multiply and for the mosquito to bite another person.
- The Florida Department of Health has identified two areas of Miami-Dade County where Zika is being spread by mosquitoes. In addition to the previously identified area in the Wynwood neighborhood, there is now mosquito-borne spread of Zika virus in a section of Miami Beach.
For more information on the Zika virus, and for the latest updates, visit www.cdc.gov/zika.