Know Your Risk: Special Zika Newsletter—February 14, 2017

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CDC's Emergency Partners newsletter provides updates, resources, and useful tips to subscribers interested in emergency preparedness and CDC's emergency responses.

Don't keep this great resource to yourself! Please share it with your colleagues and networks. If you would like more information on Emergency Preparedness and Response, visit CDC's Emergency Preparedness & Response website.



See below and visit CDC's Zika website for the most current updates and information about Zika virus.



Zika & Pregnancy

Pregnant woman holding stomach

Recommendations for Women Trying to Become Pregnant

CDC recommends precautions for women and their partners thinking about pregnancy.

Preventing Unintended Pregnancy during Zika Virus Outbreak

Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause microcephaly and other severe brain defects. Zika virus has also been linked to a number of other poor pregnancy outcomes. Avoiding or delaying pregnancy during a Zika virus outbreak is a way to reduce the number of pregnancies affected by Zika virus. If you decide that now is not the right time to have a baby, talk to your doctor or other healthcare provider.

Click the image (above) or here for more information on pregnancy and protecting yourself from getting Zika.


Do You Know Your Zika Risk?

Know Your Zika Risk

Where you live, your travel history, and the travel history of your sex partner(s) can affect your chances of getting Zika. The "Know Your Zika Risk" tool on the CDC website can help you learn more about Zika, why you might be at risk of getting it, and how to protect yourself and others.

After answering a few questions, the tool will provide guidance on your risk level of getting Zika. The guidance focuses on Zika risks and travel to international destinations and US territories. This tool may help you determine the risk of Zika for each person in your household and assist you in making informed decisions about your health.

This tool should not be used for self-diagnosis. CDC recommends that you seek the advice of a medical professional if you are concerned that you are ill.

Click the image (above) or here to use the tool and learn about your Zika risk.


World Health Organization Commentary

Zika: We must be ready for the long haul


Click the image (left) or here to read remarks from the Director-General of WHO, Dr. Margaret Chan, on the Zika outbreak throughout the past year. 


Amy Gargis, Zika Responder

Amy Gargic EOC Deployment

Name: Amy Gargis

“There is a continuous need to refine and improve Zika diagnostic tests and to include up-to-date information in our laboratory guidance and testing methods.”

As a leader of the Zika laboratory team, Amy Gargis played a major role in making significant updates to CDC’s Zika testing guidance. When Gargis joined the response in August 2016, a variety of new Zika tests were being used in laboratories across the globe, and her team was in the midst of revising the current guidance to include all available tests. The updates were substantial, requiring many hours of research and discussion. They also required close collaboration with other Emergency Operations Center task forces and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Click the image (above) or here to read more about Amy's work in responding to Zika.


Use CDC's CERC Corner tips to improve the clarity of your public health messages.


Qualities of an Effective Spokesperson

A spokesperson is essential in helping your organization relate to communities in crises. A good spokesperson embodies an organization’s identity, personifies its response efforts, and serves as the overall human connection to the public. While all spokespeople have unique qualities, there are some techniques that every spokesperson can use to effectively reach people in an emergency.

So, what should a good spokesperson do?

Role of a Spokesperson

A spokesperson’s job is to take your organization from an it to a we by:

  • Building organization trust and credibility
  • Removing psychological barriers—including fear and anxiety—in affected communities
  • Gaining support for the public health response efforts

Ultimately, if a spokesperson is successfully able to communicate important public health messages, areas affected by a disaster will face fewer incidents of illness, injury, and death.

With so much at stake, how does a spokesperson communicate effectively?

Tips for Success

Using the principles of crisis and emergency risk communication (CERC), a spokesperson can increase the likelihood that people will listen to your organization’s messages, trust your advice, and act on your recommendations. To do this, a spokesperson must demonstrate:

Empathy and caring

  • Speaking clearly—with compassion and empathy—to demonstrate care and concern.
  • Accepting and involving the public as a legitimate partner. Listening to the people experiencing an emergency will often reveal exactly what information they need, and this can help a spokesperson better deliver messages.

 Competence and expertise

  • Education and experience can help establish credibility, but a spokesperson should still tailor messaging to make complex information more easily understood. This means limiting jargon and acronyms.
  • Coordinating and collaborating with other credible sources.

 Honesty and openness

  • Being honest, frank, and open with information.
  • Explaining what your organization is doing to get information if it isn’t available.
  • Meeting the needs of the public and the media to demonstrate availability and transparency.

Commitment and dedication

  • Sharing your organization’s goals for the response, providing regular information updates, and being honest about progress and challenges.


  • Keeping promises and evaluating progress to help your organization improve its communication.

The right spokesperson can help make their organization a trusted resource for reliable information during an emergency. Using CERC principles can help a spokesperson do this well.

For more resources and information on CERC, please see Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication, 2014 Edition or Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication Pandemic Influenza, 2007.

Have you used CERC in your work? To share your CERC stories, e-mail Your stories may appear in future CERC Corners.





Pregnant women or families who would like to speak to someone about a possible Zika virus infection or diagnosis during pregnancy and potential risks to the baby can contact MotherToBaby, a service of the nonprofit Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS). MotherToBaby is not affiliated with CDC.

MotherToBaby experts are available during business hours to answer questions in English or Spanish by phone or talk about Zika:



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