Zika Virus: Suggestions for Home Care and Hospice Agencies

Posted on Friday, August 5, 2016 2:20 PM

In an effort to prevent infection during pregnancy and serious birth defects, an experimental vaccine was created earlier this year by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). This study will be tested at three different sites.

Zika virus disease continues to hit the headlines. Currently, we have 15 cases of Zika virus in Florida. The cases are likely the first known occurrence of local mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission in the continental United States. Right now, there is not an approved vaccine for Zika.

The following recommendations need to be taken into consideration regarding Zika virus:

• Patients and family members should be advised about travel in areas where Zika is present
• The CDC has great teaching tools and handouts
• Agencies should instruct caregivers, especially family care givers, to use standard precautions, wash hands frequently and use personal protective equipment (PPE) as indicated

• Agencies should provide education to all employees
• Employee travel history (as with Ebola) is important as many of our employees travel out of the country for vacation and to visit family
• Providers should monitor employee illnesses for possible signs and symptoms of Zika
• Home care and hospice providers should stay current on the Zika situation

Educate both patient and employee concerning:
• Eliminating and avoiding standing water
• Avoiding areas with a lot of high grasses, leaves, wooded areas
• Use only EPA approved insect repellent as appropriate
• Hand washing
• Use of condoms or abstaining from sexual activity for those diagnosed with the virus

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