Zika virus 'to pose extra threat to sharps injury victims this summer'

Monday April 03 2017

The Zika virus dominated media headlines last summer, particularly in the run-up to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, with people advised to take extra precautions against mosquito bites to prevent the disease from spreading.

Zika was associated with an increase in babies being born with microcephaly, a condition that prevents their heads from forming properly, leaving them with a misshapen skull.

As a result, pregnant women or those trying to conceive were advised not to travel to countries where Zika was known to be rife, but the panic had died down by the autumn.

However, with summer approaching yet again, there are concerns that the Zika virus could once again be at the centre of an epidemic, potentially spreading even further afield across the US.

Although initially transmitted to a person via a mosquito bite, there is evidence of the virus being transmitted from person to person as the result of a blood transfusion. Therefore, this means the illness can also be spread via needlestick injuries, presenting an extra threat to anyone who is unfortunate enough to fall victim to a sharps injury in a medical setting this summer.

Blood-borne diseases including HIV and hepatitis C are already a major risk where needle injuries are concerned, meaning anyone affected by a sharps accident needs to be tested for these illnesses as quickly as possible so they can begin accessing the best possible treatment for their needs.

Similarly, sharps injury victims in the US this summer should make sure they are tested for the Zika virus and abstain from sexual intercourse until they have been treated for the disease in order to prevent more babies from being born with microcephaly.

However, according to a recent poll carried out by Gallup, 90 per cent of people in the US are not at all concerned about the threat of Zika this summer.

The report authors stated: "If an outbreak were to occur, they trust the government to handle it at least slightly more than they have similar public health threats in recent years."

Even so, it is up to needlestick injury victims themselves to take responsibility for their own health and that of their loved ones by making sure they are tested for Zika, HIV and hepatitis C as quickly as possible after the incident occurs.

http://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/326757-health-officials-brace-for-return-of-zika https://ohsonline.com/articles/2017/04/03/few-americans-worried-about-zika-virus.aspx?admgarea=news