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Public Health: For General Public / Florida / South Florida

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Myths

We've all seen these myths on social media. Don't fall for them!

Fiction: I don't need to worry about Zika because I'm not a pregnant woman.

Fact: Everyone needs to take precautions against Zika. The dangers to pregnant women and their children have been in the news the most, but Zika has other consequences that affect everyone, such as an association with Guillain-Barré syndrome, which causes muscle weakness and even paralysis.

Fiction: Some races/ethnicities have natural immunities against Zika.

Fact: There is no evidence to support this rumor. Again, everyone needs to take precautions against Zika.

Fiction: I should just get it over with and try to catch the Zika virus now so that I will be immune later when I/my partner plan(s) to have a child.

Fact: This myth contains a bit of truth: women who recover from the Zika virus are indeed later immune to it. However, no one knows yet how long this immunity lasts. Current recommendations are to wait at least between two and six months after traveling to a Zika-infected area before trying to become pregnant. If you have been infected already, women should wait at least 8 weeks and men should wait at least 6 months, since Zika remains longer in semen than in other body fluids.

Fiction: The only way to catch Zika is to get bitten by a Zika-infected mosquito or to have sex with someone who did.

Fact: These are the two most common ways to catch Zika, but not the only ways. For example, there have been reports of Zika spread through blood transfusions.

Fiction: Genetically modified (GM) mosquitoes caused the Zika outbreak.

Fact: GM mosquitoes may actually be able to help control the virus’s spread. Researchers are working on inserting a gene that leads to developmental problems in male mosquitoes to disrupt their DNA and their subsequent offspring’s DNA.

Fiction: Thousands of bats are going to be released in Miami so they can eat the mosquitoes that spread Zika.

Fact: There are no plans to add bats to Miami. Two issues with this plan are (1) bats and mosquitoes have different activity cycles, so the bats might not be awake when the mosquitoes are active, and (2) the pesticides being used to kill mosquitoes may also harm bats.

Fiction: Zika is the first step in the zombie apocalypse.

Fact: Zika poses a real danger but it is not the start of the end of the world. According to Donald G. McNeil Jr., author of the book Zika: The Emerging Epidemic, "Zika is a mild disease in 99.9 percent of cases.... There's about 1 in 4,000 to 5,000 chance that somebody will get Guillain-Barre syndrome." Don't run headfirst into a swarm of mosquitoes or jump into a pool of standing water, but don't panic either.

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