Myth: If I am not pregnant or planning to become pregnant, I do not need to worry about Zika.
This is a myth and is not correct!
Truth: Zika prevention is the important for
the entire community.
Just one infected individual may be able to spread Zika virus to others in the community, including those most vulnerable people - pregnant women. Byran's story, below, shows some reasons that it is important for ALL members of a community to have information about Zika virus.
Story of Bryan's Community
Bryan is leading a Zika communication campaign for his Tribe, near the border of Mexico. Bryan understands the seriousness of Zika-related birth defects when a mother is infected during her pregnancy. Bryan decides to focus on educating pregnant women.
Unfortunately, Zika begins spreading in his community and Bryan's campaign does not seem to be helping very much.
Families without pregnant women generally do not know very much about Zika virus and do not take preventive measures. They do not dump standing water or control mosquitoes around their homes, and these mosquitoes can bite women walking nearby or fly to other neighbors. Most pregnant women try to take preventive measures, but there is little effect on the local mosquito population because so few people are taking action.
Some members of the community may be exposed to Zika virus and spread it to others via sexual activity or mosquito bites. Bryan's community is located in the area where
Aedes mosquitoes - the type that can spread Zika virus - live. This means that community members infected by Zika - even due to travel or via sexual activity - can help spread Zika locally. A mosquito who bites a person infected with Zika virus can spread Zika to other community members.
As in the United States overall, about half of all pregnancies are unplanned. Many women in the community risk being exposed to Zika before they even know they are pregnant.
Some men in the community feel that they do not play a role in preventing Zika because they cannot get pregnant. Even some pregnant women report that their male partners do not understand Zika virus or why it is important for men to take preventive measures.
Bryan is correct that birth defects are typically the most serious consequence of Zika virus. Targeting pregnant women is a wise idea.
However, due to the seriousness of Zika-related birth defects and the ways that Zika can be spread, Zika prevention must be EVERYONE's job, for reasons shown in this example.