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City Services

July 20, 2017

Chicago Department of Public Health Kicks off Second Year of #StopZika Citywide Campaign

Citywide awareness campaign provides simple steps for residents to protect themselves from mosquitoes while traveling and at home

CHICAGO - The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) kicked off its second year of #StopZika—a citywide public education campaign designed to provide residents with simple steps they can take to protect themselves from the Zika virus. Though Zika does not currently present a direct threat locally, the campaign provides residents with tips to protect against the virus when traveling and also protect against other mosquito-borne illnesses here in Chicago.

“We know mosquitoes can transmit a host of infections, which is why the summer months are key for our mosquito prevention efforts”, said CDPH Commissioner Julie Morita, M.D. “Although no local transmission of Zika has occurred in Chicago, we recommend those traveling create a plan to effectively prevent devastating birth defects that can result from Zika virus infection during pregnancy.”

The campaign features print and outdoor advertisements in English and Spanish, plus stop-motion videos at O’Hare Airport, specifically reminding residents and visitors traveling to take basic precautions to protect themselves from Zika. CDPH is making brochures and posters available, in English and Spanish, to clinicians citywide to encourage their patients to ask more questions about Zika virus testing, travel and family planning. Zika protection kits containing instructions for using male condoms will also be available. Residents can also follow the campaign on social media using the hashtags #StopZika and #PareZika (Spanish).

To help protect Chicago residents, CDPH has launched a prevention plan, informed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which recommends women who are pregnant or may become pregnant to avoid travel to regions where Zika transmission is ongoing. Furthermore, Zika can be transmitted sexually. Condom usage is recommended eight weeks after travel for women and six months for men to prevent infection. Finally, male sexual partners (of pregnant women) who travel to those regions are recommended to use condoms while having sex for the duration of the pregnancy.

Zika is primarily transmitted through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito and a person with Zika can pass it to his or her sex partners. Mosquitos carrying Zika have been found in many parts of the world, including but not limited to, Latin America and the Caribbean. People living in the greater Chicago area who have not traveled to these areas are generally not considered at risk for Zika virus infection unless they have had unprotected sex with a person who traveled to Zika affected areas. A list of Zika affected areas can be found at www.cdc.gov/zika/geo

Four out of five people infected with Zika virus won't have symptoms. Symptoms can include fever, rash, sore joints and red eyes (conjunctivitis). Zika infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects, fetal loss and other poor pregnancy outcomes. Pregnant women who have developed symptoms and live in or have recently traveled to an area with risk of Zika, or have had unprotected sex with a person who has traveled to a Zika affected area should talk to their doctor about testing.

Though mosquitoes native to Chicago do not currently carry the Zika virus, there are simple steps all residents can take to protect themselves and their family from mosquitoes during the summer months. Residents should consider the following tips recommended by medical experts:

  • When outside, use insect repellant as directed.
  • Wear shoes long pants and long-sleeved shirts when outdoors for long periods of time.
  • When inside, use air conditioning or make sure open windows and doors have screens.
  • Remove standing water around your home, where mosquitoes like to breed and lay eggs. This includes water that collects under potted plants, in birdbaths and near storm drains.

In addition to the awareness campaign, CDPH maintains an aggressive seasonal mosquito surveillance and prevention program which, using the model created to combat the West Nile Virus, includes regular testing of mosquitoes caught in traps located throughout Chicago. The test results indicate mosquito species, including any associated health risks, and guide CDPH’s efforts to further reduce risks through targeted neighborhood outreach and spraying.

For more information on CDPH’s Zika campaign, please visit www.stopzikachicago.org.