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Extended comment:<br />I am struck by medical authorities comments that the zika virus affect'...Read More

By josephmbonin@gmail.com on: Thursday, April 14, 2016

I am a 86 yrs of age and have been told by an orthopedic surgeon that my weakness and loss of range'...Read More

By josephmbonin@gmail.com on: Thursday, April 14, 2016

I am 67 & live in a seniors residence, they let me move in early due to my health so I have been'...Read More

By Bob on: Sunday, February 7, 2016

Family Caregiving for Seniors - SageCorner Blog

Is Zika a Threat to Seniors?

by Deah on Thursday, February 18, 2016 8:44 AM

Zika is a virus often thought to be harmless named after the Zika Forest of Uganda, where it was first discovered in 1947. This is a disease that often has no symptoms; and if there are symptoms, they are only mildly uncomfortable. In the 1950’s it was known to occur within a narrow equatorial belt from Africa to Asia, but in 2014, the virus spread eastward across the Pacific Ocean and in 2015 to South America, Central America, and Mexico where it has now reached epidemic levels.

Today, according to some news reports, there have been 66 confirmed Zika virus cases in the United States - thought to be brought back by persons visiting one of the countries mentioned above. Originally, the virus was thought to be spread only through the bite of an infected mosquito but recently sexual transmittance is believed to have occurred.

Historically, Zika was thought to be a short-lived and mild illness but that perception is changing.  An outbreak in Brazil prompted research that discovered a link to a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly in babies of mothers who had the Zika virus while pregnant. Microcephaly is a condition where the baby’s head is much smaller because the brain has not developed properly during pregnancy or has stopped growing after birth, which results in a smaller head size.

What About Zika and the Elderly?

The elderly are at a disadvantage as they are with any virus because of weaker immune systems that effect the body's ability to fight infection. Seniors with chronic disease or other illnesses are at an especially high risk for contracting Zika or any influenza.

Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

Only one in five people who contract the illness will even exhibit symptoms!  Zika symptoms when they do occur include: fever, skin rashes, joint pain, headache, muscle pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). Treatment is plenty of rest, drinking more fluids, and medications to relieve fever and pain; be sure to talk to your healthcare provider.

To help protect your loved ones from contracting other illnesses that can weaken the immune system - like influenza - be sure they are receiving routine vaccines each year.  Strengthen the immune system in other ways by exercising daily and maintaining a healthy balanced diet. Meals should include plenty of vegetables, lean proteins, and heart healthy whole grains. Reduce exposure to mosquitos by dressing in light-colored long clothing and limiting skin exposure. Use insect repellant and hang netting and screens or consider netted tents if spending a lot of time outdoors. And, be sure to clear any possible breeding grounds in the yard - such as stagnant water.

It is very unlikely that anyone you know will contract the disease at this time.  But a little prevention - especially by avoiding mosquito bites - cannot hurt! 


 

Blogs Parent Separator Deah Bowes
Author
Deah

Tips and ideas to help care for a senior loved one at home.

2 comment(s) so far...

Anonymous 4/14/2016

I am a 86 yrs of age and have been told by an orthopedic surgeon that my weakness and loss of range in my right arm may be due to a rare viral infection. He never suggested zika but did refer me to a neurologist. I have seen three of the latter and I have some nerve compression, but none of the latter specialists have mentioned a possible viral infection. I have recovered some strength and range due to physical therapy, but remain somewhat impaired. I also am somewhat more depressed and slower to find the right word and recallinthan usual and have developed a much more pronounced tremor.<br /><br />

 
Anonymous 4/14/2016

Extended comment:<br />I am struck by medical authorities comments that the zika virus affects the development of brain cells. This raises the question of whether this could also be true with respect to the "replacement or redevelopment" brain cells in mature persons or, especially, the elderly. <br /><br />I did not travel abroad during the year that I've experienced difficulties, but live near Mobile Alabama and, being an avid gardener, I've often been exposed to mosquito bites

  

Lori Paterno, M.Ed. Has a Masters Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling From Penn State University.  She has over 20 years professional experience in Human Services, Counseling, and Education.

Lori Paterno, M.Ed. Has a Masters Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling From Penn State University.  She has over 20 years professional experience in Human Services, Counseling, and Education. 
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