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The Facts about ZIKA and the Elderly

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The Zika virus is a relatively new danger to Americans, and it’s best known for being a risk to pregnant women and their children, but it’s also a threat to the elderly. This risk impacts seniors in different ways compared to pregnant women, making it necessary for the elderly to be aware of prevention techniques and the symptoms of the virus. Knowing how the virus is transmitted is vital for understanding the danger.

How is Zika Transmitted?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Zika virus is primarily transmitted by mosquitos in areas of the world outside of the U.S. However, the particular insects known to spread the virus are found in the southern U.S. Additional information on areas known to have Zika are available through the CDC. These areas could spread and become larger in the future, which is why U.S. citizens should care about the virus.

Zika can have devastating effects on pregnant women and their children, resulting in birth defects and life-long challenges for kids. Seniors are also at risk of medical complications, if bitten or if they receive the virus through other means. The CDC is conducting ongoing research to help track and reduce the threat of Zika while educating the public about its dangers.

Signs & Symptoms

The CDC notes that the signs and symptoms of Zika infection in seniors include fever, joint pain, and conjunctivitis. While all of these symptoms may not seem a serious threat, they can be the prelude to more significant medical complications because many seniors have diminished or poorly functioning immune systems. Other symptoms that seniors might experience include muscle pain or headaches. If these symptoms get worse, then it’s time for seniors to visit a physician.

Prevention

If seniors are traveling to Central or South America or other areas are known for the transmission of Zika, they should take all precautions to prevent mosquito bites. This includes wearing long sleeve shirts, pants, hats and insect repellant. Although these precautions may seem straightforward and simple, they can go a long way in preventing Zika from harming an older person. If seniors plan on living in communities abroad during retirement, or if they plan on buying a new home in a Zika-prone country, then exercising caution is critical for physical well-being.

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