Zika Virus and other Infectious Diseases

The medical team at Jackson Health System is closely monitoring the Zika virus and its local impact. All of our physicians treating pregnant women have been given the information regarding comprehensive screenings for the virus, following guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Florida Department of Health.

As with any public health issue, Jackson is committed to remaining true to its mission to protect the health and well-being of the people of Miami-Dade County. Pregnant women with questions or concerns are encouraged to call their physician. The Florida Department of Health has also launched a Zika Virus Information Hotline at 1-855-622-6735.

Preparedness Efforts

As a public health system, our community expects Jackson to be the most prepared, and consider us experts in the face of any public health concern. We want to assure you that we closely monitor the development of any infectious diseases and continuously take all precautions to ensure that our staff is educated on specific protocols that will help maximize the safety of our patients, guests, and employees.

As always, Jackson Health System continues to strengthen its efforts to prepare for and fight against all infectious diseases, starting with education. It is essential to any preparedness efforts, which is why our employees have the facts about all infectious diseases and are well-trained on our response protocols. Teams of educators across the organization work diligently to ensure everyone is prepared for possible cases of these illnesses and to minimize risk of exposure to both patients and staff.

In order to remain vigilant and focused on safety and patient care, Jackson enhances its readiness to combat infectious diseases by utilizing a few key tools:

  • Infection-control team – Consists of dedicated leaders that personally oversee any suspected cases. These individuals are in the unit directing every aspect of care, confirming with their own eyes that employees know the protocols and follow them closely.
  • Hands-on training – Comprised of one-on-one training sessions and demonstrations of proper procedures and protocols, including full, personal protective equipment preparations. 
  • Procedures and protocols – Updated protocols and procedures on infectious diseases, including adjusting preliminary intake questionnaires, early preparation, and detailed planning.
  • Isolation – Appropriate isolation areas are available and equipped in every hospital. In some cases, we are also prepared to build additional isolation spaces using temporary construction materials.

Jackson Health System takes your health and safety very seriously. As we continue to learn new and effective methods of protection against infectious diseases, we continue to make enhancements to our protocols while maximizing the margin of safety for our clinical teams, our patients, and our community.

Understanding Zika

Zika is a virus. It is transmitted by mosquitoes. It was first discovered in the Zika Forest of Uganda in 1947. For many decades, it was thought to be a rare cause of infection. It was found only in small areas of Africa, the Yap Islands in the Pacific, and Easter Island. But in April 2015, it was found in Brazil. It has since spread quickly to many countries in South and Central America, and to the Caribbean and Mexico. Experts aren’t sure why.

A number of cases have also been found in the U.S. Most of these people got the virus while visiting other parts of the world where mosquitoes are spreading it. But very recently experts reported that the virus had been spread by mosquitoes in the U.S.

What causes Zika?
The Zika virus is mostly passed on by the bite of the mosquito species Aedes. Pregnant women who have it can also give it to their unborn child. It may also be transmitted through sexual contact and blood transfusion. But experts know so little about the virus that they are still learning all the ways it can be passed on.

Symptoms of Zika
Most people infected with the Zika virus have no symptoms. For the 1 out of 5 people who do have symptoms, they are usually very mild. They last 5 to 7 days and then go away completely. They may include:

  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Headache
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Conjunctivitis, when the eyes become red, irritated, and inflamed

Treatment for Zika
There is no medicine to cure the Zika virus. Treatment is aimed at easing symptoms. Treatments include:

  • Rest. You may feel better more quickly if you get plenty of rest.
  • Fluids. Drinking lots of fluids will help you stay hydrated. Water and sports drinks are good choices. Avoid alcohol and drinks with caffeine.
  • Medicine. Acetaminophen can help ease fever and pain.

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