Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Calendar of Events for May 2016

Register for events listed below by calling 540-316-3588 or by going to fauquierhealth.org and clicking on "events," unless otherwise noted.

Thursday, May 5
Families Overcoming Drug Addiction (F.O.D.A)
Meets the first and third Thursday of the month
When: 6:30 p.m.
Where: Fauquier Hospital Sycamore Room
Details: This is a support group for families who care for, or who have lost a member due to drug addiction. If you have any questions, please contact Caroline Folker at 540-316-9221 or by email at MyFODAfamily@gmail.com

Friday, May 6
Rheumatoid Arthritis Support Group
Where: Fauquier Hospital Chestnut Room
When: 7 p.m.
Register: Contact Linda Miller at 703-895-2167

Monday, May 9
Cancer Support Group
Where: Fauquier Hospital Chestnut Room
When: 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Register: Call Richard Shrout at 540-316-CARE (2273)

Breastfeeding Made Simple
Where: Fauquier Hospital Family Birthing Center
When: 6 to 8:30 p.m.
Cost: $25
Register: 540-316-3588

Breastfeeding Support Group
Meets every Monday
Where: Fauquier Hospital Family Birthing Center
When: 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.
Register: 540-316-3588

Thursday, May 12
Community Lecture
Where: Fauquier Hospital Sycamore Room
When: 7 p.m.
Details: “Nutrient Density,” with Beth Potter, certified dietitian
Register: 540-316-3588

Saturday, May 14
Safe Sitter Babysitter Training
Where: Fauquier Hospital Sycamore Room
When: 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Cost: $60
Register: 540-316-3588

Junior Chef Program
Where: Fauquier Hospital Bistro on the Hill restaurant
When: 9 a.m. to 12 noon
Cost: $45
Register: 540-316-3588

Monday, May 16
Look Good…Feel Better
Where: Fauquier Health Chestnut Room
When: 10 a.m.
Register: 540-316-3588
Details: This class helps cancer patients manage appearance-related side effects.

Bereavement Support Group
Where: Fauquier Health Chestnut Room
When: 1 p.m.
Register: Contact Roxanne Woodward at 703-957-1800

Breastfeeding Support Group
Meets every Monday
Where: Fauquier Hospital Family Birthing Center
When: 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.
Register: 540-316-3588

Thursday, May 19
Baby Care Essentials
Where: Fauquier Hospital Family Birthing Center
When: 6 to 8:30 p.m.
Cost: $25
Register: 540-316-3588 

Families Overcoming Drug Addiction (F.O.D.A)
Meets the first and third Thursday of the month
When: 6:30 p.m.
Where: Fauquier Hospital Sycamore Room
Details: This is a support group for families who care for, or who have lost a member due to drug addiction. If you have any questions, please contact Caroline Folker at 540-316-9221 or by email at MyFODAfamily@gmail.com

Friday, May 20 and 21
Your Childbirth Experience
Where: Fauquier Hospital Family Birthing Center
When: Friday, 6 to 9 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Details: Weekend class
Cost: $120
Register: 540-316-3588

Saturday, May 21
First Aid/CPR/AED (Adult/ Infant and Child)
American Heart Association
Where: Fauquier Health Medical Office Building
When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: $85
Register: 540-316-3588

Monday, May 23
Breastfeeding Support Group
Meets every Monday
Where: Fauquier Hospital Family Birthing Center
When: 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.
Register: 540-316-3588

Wednesday, May 25
Alzheimer’s and Dementia-Related Illness Support Group
Where: The Villa at Suffield Meadows
When: 4 to 5:30 p.m.
Register: 540-316-3800

Thursday, May 26
Community Lecture
Where: Fauquier Health Sycamore Room
When: 7 p.m.
Details: “Managing Your Diabetes,” with Geraldine Stile-Killian, nurse practitioner
Register: 540-316-3588

Friday, May 27
Massage for Couples
Where: Fauquier Health Wellness Center
When: 6 to 8 p.m.
Cost: $55 per couple
Register: 540-316-2640

Monday, May 30
Breastfeeding Support Group
Meets every Monday
Where: Fauquier Hospital Family Birthing Center
When: 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.
Register: 540-316-3588

Wednesday, June 1
Breastfeeding Made Simple
Where: Fauquier Hospital Family Birthing Center
When: 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Cost: $25
Register: 540-316-3588

Friday, June 3
Rheumatoid Arthritis Support Group
Where: Fauquier Health Chestnut Room
When: 7 p.m.

Register: Contact Linda Miller at 703-895-2167

May 5 is World Hand Hygiene Day

May 5 is the World Health Organization's World Hand Hygiene Day. Hand hygiene (washing with soap and water or using hand sanitizer) is the most effective way to prevent the spread of infections. Because it is the number one way to stop the spread of germs, it is important to clean your hands often. Remember: CLEAN HANDS COUNT for safe healthcare!

When should I wash my hands?
Many illnesses can be prevented with regular hand hygiene using soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Clean your hands often, and request that others do the same.

  • Before eating 
  • Before, during, and after preparing food 
  • After using the bathroom 
  • After coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose, or caring for someone who is ill 
  • After taking out the garbage 
  • After petting animals 
  • When visiting someone who is sick 
  • Whenever your hands look or feel dirty 

How do I wash my hands correctly?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap. 
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. 
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice. 
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water. 
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them, and use a paper towel to turn off the faucet, and then throw it away. 

How do I clean my hands without soap or water?
If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in some situations, but sanitizers do not eliminate all types of germs.
  • Apply the product to the palm of one hand. 
  • Rub your hands together. 
  • Rub the product over all surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry. 

I didn’t see my healthcare provider or visitors wash their hands. Now what?
Scary but true: It has been estimated that fewer than half of healthcare workers clean their hands as often as they are supposed to. Germs on healthcare workers’ hands can transmit dangerous infections to patients. Did you see your healthcare providers or visitors wash their hands? If not, ask politely them to wash again (e.g., “Do you mind cleaning your hands again before the exam?”). Please speak up for your care. Don’t be shy. After all, we’re talking about your health.

Additional resources
APIC consumer alert—Holiday hand hygiene
APIC: Infection Prevention and You—Clean Hands Stop Germs
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—“Clean Hands Count”
World Health Organization—Clean hands protect against infection
World Health Organization—SAVE LIVES: Clean Your Hands 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

New Neurologist Begins Seeing Patients

Dr. Rana Kayal
Rana Kayal, M.D., has joined Fauquier Health Neurology. Fauquier Health CEO Rodger Baker says, “We have been without a practitioner for several months, and we are delighted to have Dr. Kayal fill this position. This specialty is so important for our community.”

Dr. Kayal says she is enjoying her work so far, helping patients understand their symptoms and working with them to manage their diseases. Dr. Kayal says the most common ailments she sees are headache, back pain/sciatica and neuropathy. Neuropathy stems from a problem with the nerves in the body, for instance:
• Sensory nerves (the nerves that control sensation), causing tingling, pain, numbness or weakness in the feet and hands
• Motor nerves (the nerves that allow power and movement), causing weakness in the feet and hands
• Autonomic nerves (the nerves that control the systems of the body, like the gut and bladder), causing changes in the heart rate and blood pressure or sweating

Neurology was a natural choice for Dr. Kayal. “I was fascinated with the complexity of neurologic problems, where you have to put all the pieces of the puzzle together to get to the diagnosis.”

She has a particular interest in neuromuscular medicine, including diseases of the nerves and muscles. “I did my fellowship in neurophysiology with a focus on electromyography (EMG) — the
test that studies the muscles and nerves.”

Dr. Kayal admits that there is much in neurology that is still unknown. There are devastating diseases — like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects
nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord — that are still incurable.

She is optimistic, though, when she sees the effectiveness of new treatments for multiple sclerosis or the promising results from deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.

Happy to be settling in at Fauquier, Dr. Kayal says, “I was impressed with how the professionals I’ve met are happy working at Fauquier Health. Other private practices I visited were interested in the volume of patients seen and wanted to shorten the time allocated to patients’ visits. I can see that Fauquier Health is more interested in putting patients first.”

Monday, May 2, 2016

Multidisciplinary Team Works Together to Tackle Cancer

This article appeared in the spring, 2016 issue of Fauquier Hospital's newsletter, Healthy Happenings.


Olga Malroy
When Olga Malroy discovered a lump in her breast in September 2015, she made an appointment at Fauquier Hospital for a diagnostic mammogram — even though she lives in Manassas. “I used to live in Warrenton, was familiar with Fauquier Hospital and had had a mammogram there three years earlier,” she says. “I was comfortable there.”

Two surgeries later, she is glad she chose Fauquier Hospital. The mammogram showed an abnormality, and she had an ultrasound that same day.

“I saw the picture,” says Olga. “I’m a doctor, and I knew it didn’t look good.” Olga had been a physician in her native Ukraine, trained in internal medicine.

The likelihood of being diagnosed with breast cancer was difficult enough, but as a 45-year-old single mother with two children and no health insurance, Olga knew she couldn’t pay for the tests or
treatment she needed. Fortunately, as soon as the results of the mammography came through, Olga was given the name of Richard Shrout, R.N., M.S.N., the oncology nurse navigator for Fauquier Health. He immediately introduced Olga to the folks at Fauquier Health Financial Services.

Richard says, “My job is to see that patients get the tests and treatments they need as quickly as possible and to remove any barriers to care. Olga's biggest barrier was financial. It has been my privilege to work with her. She is so bright, asks lots of great questions, and is very strong and determined.”

Fast Diagnosis, Fact Action
The biopsy showed two malignancies, and after talking with oncologist Syed Salman Ali, M.D., and surgeon Kip Dorsey, M.D., Olga opted for a mastectomy and breast reconstruction.

During the November 4 surgery, the team removed two sentinel lymph nodes, and they proved positive for cancer cells.

Olga says, “I was very glad I opted for the mastectomy instead of a lumpectomy, because the positive lymph nodes showed that the cancer had begun to spread. The doctors also found a third tumor, too small to be detected by a mammogram.”

During that first surgery, plastic surgeon Timothy Mountcastle, M.D., put in what’s called an expander. He explains, “It saves the skin so that we can put in an implant later. The breast
reconstruction is a multistep process.”

The Road to Recovery
It wasn’t until November 19 that Olga got good news. A PET-CT scan showed that the cancer had not metastasized. On November 24, a second surgery confirmed that the 17 axillary lymph nodes that had been removed “all came back negative — no cancer in those cells,” says Dr. Ali.

Olga’s last genomic test showed that she would benefit from chemotherapy, says Dr. Ali.

Olga had been studying to become a sonographer, but she has had to put school on hold for a while. “I was taking two classes but had to drop one,” she says. “I did not want to do the chemo. It will take four months. I had everything scheduled, planned out. Now I’ve lost a year of my life.”

Throughout her cancer journey, Olga has had to make difficult decisions. As a doctor herself, she has been more able  than most patients to research her options. She has relied on the input of her health team as well. “Everyone has been so supportive, respectful and professional,” she says. Olga could elect to have chemotherapy treatments closer to her home, but she wants to have her treatments at Fauquier Hospital.

Dr. Mountcastle says, “It’s great that here at Fauquier Hospital we have a multidisciplinary team of cancer, reconstructive, chemo and radiation doctors to assist patients with the treatment of every aspect of breast cancer.”

Friday, April 22, 2016

Fauquier Hospital Intermediate Care Nursery Ready to Accept Patients

Neonatologist Dr. Elsie Mainali is the new medical director of the Intermediate Care Nursery at Fauquier Hospital.


Beverlyn Silberbauer, RN, makes last-minute adjustments
to prepare for the nursery’s opening.
During an open house last Wednesday at Fauquier Hospital’s FamilyBirthing Center, neonatologist Dr. Elsie Mainali smiled broadly as she patted an infant resuscitator machine like a mother stroking a child. Dr. Mainali said that the hospital’s newly renovated Level 2 Intermediate Care Nursery (ICN) is the best equipped of any ICN in the area. “We are truly state-of-the-art.”

As of April 14, the new seven-bed unit (up from four beds) will welcome newborns who need special care. The nursery has been closed since November 2015, when construction began.
Beverlyn Silberbauer, ICN RN, explained that the each of the tiny patient beds is equipped with a myriad of monitoring equipment, a scale, and temperature and humidity controls. “The temperature control keeps the infant’s body temperature stable, and the humidity regulator protects the baby’s delicate skin.”

Stations are also equipped with phototherapy lamps and special blankets that cover the small
pod-like beds, so that the babies can rest in complete darkness – “just as if they are still in utero.” There are “portholes” in the sides of the beds, so parents can reach in and interact with their babies easily. Silberbauer said, “Even with the portholes open, the air inside the bed doesn’t leave and the air from the outside doesn’t get in, so the temperature stays consistent. It’s amazing technology.”

When a child is born prematurely, he or she may have respiratory issues, jaundice, or present other difficulties that require special attention. The ICN can provide around-the-clock care for newborns that are born after 32 weeks and are at least 3.3 pounds. Before Fauquier Health opened the ICN in 2013, these babies were transferred to a neonatal intensive care unit in Northern Virginia or at the University of Virginia.

The ICN also cares for babies born addicted to opioids. Silberbauer said, “Sometimes it takes months for those babies to go through the withdrawal process. Our job is to make sure the baby is healthy and the mom has the support she needs to take care of her baby when they go home.”

Dr. Mainali agreed, “We see quite a number of these babies.”

The Intermediate Care Nursery was expanded to better meet the needs of patients and their families, as well as to meet newer space requirements for an intermediate nursery – set by the state health commissioner, Virginia Department of Health. Historically, the nursery has hosted an average of three babies, but the volume would sometimes surge to five or six. The new space will more comfortably handle demand.

Of the 762 babies born in 2015 (before the ICN closed for construction), 71 were cared for in the ICN. During construction, 15 newborns that would have stayed in the ICN were transferred for higher level care.

In addition to enlarging the space, other highly specialized equipment for at-risk babies has been added. The security system has been updated and new isolates and radiant warmers have been installed, as have wireless scanners for medication, a PACS system for radiology services, mobile computers and respiratory equipment.

The construction cost $991,000; equipment added another $480,000. (This equipment was purchased in 2013 as part of the original project opening, and was raised through a Mars family gift of $382,000 and other fundraising efforts.)

The ICN will be staffed with two neonatal intensive care unit registered nurses 24 hours a day. Respiratory services, lactation experts, case management workers, an RN clinical coordinator and another physician will support the effort. Dr. Mainali added, “All nurses have Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP) certification; most come from higher-level care nurseries and have years of experience.”

Fauquier Health’s ICN also has a collaborative relationship with neonatologists at the University of Virginia’s Neonatal Intensive Care Nursery, to ensure local babies have the resources of a university-level facility. Dr. Mainali explained, “We currently have telemedicine capabilities; experts at UVA are able to receive data about a newborn in our nursery, examine the baby remotely and work with our staff via video feed.”

The nursery features open visiting hours, and mothers are encouraged to breastfeed their babies if they choose. Two private rooms can accommodate newborns who need readmission after being home. When babies are ready to be discharged, parents are invited to stay overnight in a private room and work with nursing services to understand how to care for their newborns.

Dr. Mainali said that Fauquier Health Home Care Services is available to visit mom and baby at home, to assist with any lingering issues. “We want to ensure that there is a smooth transition.” CPR training for parents is available prior to discharge and outpatient lactation services recently have been added.
Community pediatricians are invited to visit with their patients in the ICN. All newborns that are admitted to the ICN are under the care of Dr. Mainali, who said, “We view it as a collaborative effort and understand that the community pediatricians are guiding care after discharge. Having their engagement and ensuring we are communicating effectively is a priority.”

Pediatrician Dr. Joshua Jakum of Piedmont Pediatrics said, “I am thrilled that Dr. Elsie Mainali is joining Fauquier Health. The academic knowledge she brings is outstanding. We have already begun working on quality improvement initiatives that have demonstrated promise for neonates as well as our general newborn population.”


Friday, April 8, 2016

Fauquier Hospital Hosts Open House to Celebrate Intermediate Care Nursery Renovation and Expansion




Fauquier Hospital's Family Birthing Center will hold an open house on Wednesday, April 13, from 4 to 7 p.m. to celebrate the renovation and expansion of the Intermediate Care Nursery.

Tours of the new space will be offered and visitors will be able to meet the ICN's new neonatologist and medical director, Dr. Elsie Mainali. Refreshments will be served.

The recent renovations at the ICN have doubled its size and added four beds, for a total of seven. The neonatal ICN -- designed to provide care for babies who are born at Fauquier Hospital but are born prematurely or are too sick to go home right away -- means that parents of these babies can be with their newborns every day without having to travel to Northern Virginia or Charlottesville. Some infants will still need the care that can only be provided in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit – a higher level of care -- but many babies will be able to remain in Fauquier, near their loved ones.

The nursery operates under the guidance of neonatologist Dr. Elsie Mainali, the nursery’s new medical director. Rodger Baker, CEO of Fauquier Health, said, “Having a neonatologist overseeing the nursery is providing a level of care beyond what we have been able to provide in the past.”

Dr. Mainali and neonatal nurse practitioners will provide ongoing bedside care for babies who need extra attention until they are strong enough to reunite with their families.

Monday, February 29, 2016

A Q&A from the CDC About the Zika Virus

What is Zika virus disease?
Zika is a disease caused by Zika virus that is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito.

Why are we hearing so much about Zika?
Recent outbreaks throughout Central and South America have generated national attention on this virus. While many will only experience mild symptoms, Zika virus has been linked to a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly (a condition in which a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age) and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant.

What are the symptoms of Zika?
About 1 in 5 people infected with Zika will get sick. For people who get sick, the illness is usually mild. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected.

The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Symptoms typically begin 2 to 7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

Are children or elderly at increased risk of complications?
No. Otherwise healthy children and elderly populations will likely experience the same signs and symptoms, with minimal risk for complications.

If your child develops any of the signs or symptoms of Zika, see your child’s primary doctor for evaluation and let him/her know of any recent trips the family or family members have taken.

What types of complications can occur?
Complications and hospitalizations are rare with Zika virus.

How is Zika transmitted?
Zika is primarily transmitted through the bite of infected Aedes mosquitoes, the same mosquitoes that spread Chikungunya and dengue. These mosquitoes are aggressive daytime biters and they can also bite at night. Mosquitoes become infected when they bite a person already infected with the virus. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to other people through bites. It can also be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth. The CDC is studying how some mothers can pass the virus to their babies. While not the most common form of transmission, spread of the virus through blood transfusion and sexual contact have been reported.

Who is at risk of being infected?
Anyone who lives in or travels to an area where Zika virus is found and has not already been infected with Zika virus can get it from mosquito bites. While not common, cases of transmission through sexual contact have been reported. If you or your partner have recently traveled to an area where Zika virus has been found, there is a chance that you could transmit the virus through sexual contact.

What countries have Zika?
Specific areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing are often difficult to determine and are likely to change over time. If traveling, please visit the CDC Travelers’ Health site for the most updated travel information.

What can people do to prevent becoming infected with Zika?

There is no vaccine to prevent Zika. The best way to prevent diseases spread by mosquitoes is to protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites. Here’s how:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants. 
  • Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside. 
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents. All EPA-registered insect repellents are evaluated for safety and effectiveness. 
  • Always follow the product label instructions. 
  • Reapply insect repellent as directed. 
  • Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing. 
  • If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent. 
If you have a baby or child:
  • Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months of age. 
  • Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs, or 
  • Cover crib, stroller, and baby carrier with mosquito netting. 
  • Do not apply insect repellent onto a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, and cut or irritated skin. 
  • Adults: Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child’s face. 
  • Treat clothing and gear with permethrin or buy permethrin-treated items. 
  • Treated clothing remains protective after multiple washings. See product information to learn how long the protection will last. 
  • If treating items yourself, follow the product instructions carefully. 
  • Do NOT use permethrin products directly on skin. They are intended to treat clothing. 
  • Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are overseas or outside and are not able to protect yourself from mosquito bites.



What is the treatment for Zika?


There is no vaccine or specific medicine to treat Zika virus infections.

With the Zika virus, doctors treat the symptoms:
  • Get plenty of rest. 
  • Drink fluids to prevent dehydration. 
  • Take medicine such as acetaminophen to reduce fever and pain. 
  • Do not take aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. 
  • If you are taking medicine for another medical condition, talk to your healthcare provider before taking additional medication.
How is Zika diagnosed?

If you develop symptoms of Zika virus (fever, rash, joint pain, red eyes), see your regular healthcare provider. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have recently traveled, even within the continental U.S.

Your healthcare provider may order blood tests to look for Zika or other similar viral diseases like dengue or chikungunya.

What should I do if I have Zika?

Treat the symptoms:
  • Get plenty of rest 
  • Drink fluids to prevent dehydration 
  • Take medicine such as acetaminophen to reduce fever and pain 
  • Do not take aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

Protect others: During the first week of infection, Zika virus can be found in the blood and passed from an infected person to another person through mosquito bites. An infected mosquito can then spread the virus to other people. To help prevent others from getting sick, avoid mosquito bites during the first week of illness.

See your healthcare provider if you are pregnant and develop a fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes within two (2) weeks after traveling to a place where Zika has been reported. Be sure to tell your health care provider where you traveled.

Is there a vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika?

No. There is no vaccine to prevent infection or medicine to treat Zika.

Are you immune for life once infected?
Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections.

Does Zika virus infection in pregnant women cause birth defects?
There have been reports of a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly (a condition in which a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age) and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant. Knowledge of the link between Zika and these outcomes is evolving, but until more is known, CDC recommends special precautions for the following groups:
Women who are pregnant (in any trimester):
  • Consider postponing travel to any area where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. 
  • If you must travel to one of these areas, talk to your doctor first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip. 
Women who are trying to become pregnant:
  • Before you travel, talk to your doctor about your plans to become pregnant and the risk of Zika virus infection. 
  • Strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip.
For more questions and answers on Zika and pregnancy, see the CDC’s Questions and Answers: Zika and Pregnancy.

Does Zika virus infection cause Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS)?


Guillain-BarrĂ© syndrome (GBS) is a rare disorder where a person’s own immune system damages the nerve cells, causing muscle weakness and sometimes, paralysis. These symptoms can last a few weeks or several months. While most people fully recover from GBS, some people have permanent damage and in rare cases, people have died.

The CDC does not know if Zika virus infection causes GBS. It is difficult to determine if any particular germ “causes” GBS. The Brazil Ministry of Health (MOH) is reporting an increased number of people affected with GBS. CDC is collaborating with the Brazil MOH to determine if having Zika makes it more likely you will get GBS.

Is this a new virus?

No. Outbreaks of Zika previously have been reported in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. Zika virus likely will continue to spread to new areas. In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infection in Brazil. Since that time, local transmission has been reported in many other countries and territories.

How many travel-associated cases have been diagnosed in the United States?

CDC continues to work with states to monitor the United States for mosquito-borne diseases, including Zika. As an arboviral disease, Zika is nationally notifiable. Healthcare providers are encouraged to report suspected cases to their state or local health departments to facilitate diagnosis and mitigate the risk of local transmission. Limited local transmission may occur in the mainland United States but it’s unlikely that we will see widespread transmission of Zika in the mainland U.S.

Should we be concerned about Zika in the United States?

The U.S. mainland does have Aedes species mosquitoes that can become infected with and spread Zika virus. U.S. travelers who visit a country where Zika is found could become infected if bitten by a mosquito.

With the recent outbreaks, the number of Zika virus disease cases among travelers visiting or returning to the United States will likely increase. These imported cases may result in local spread of the virus in some areas of the United States. CDC has been monitoring these epidemics and is prepared to address cases imported into the United States and cases transmitted locally.

What is CDC doing about Zika?

CDC has been aware of Zika for some time and has been preparing for its possible introduction into the United States. Laboratories in many countries have been trained to test for chikungunya and dengue. These skills have prepared these laboratories for Zika testing.

CDC is working with international public health partners and with state health departments to:
  • Alert healthcare providers and the public about Zika. 
  • Post travel notices and other travel-related guidance. 
  • Provide state health laboratories with diagnostic tests. 
  • Detect and report cases, which will help prevent further spread.

The arrival of Zika in the Americas demonstrates the risks posed by this and other exotic viruses. CDC’s health security plans are designed to effectively monitor for disease, equip diagnostic laboratories, and support mosquito control programs both in the United States and around the world.

How can I learn more about Zika virus?

CDC has a number of resources available to learn more about Zika virus. Visit the website at www.cdc.gov/zika.