Zika Examples of Communicating Health Risks
To weigh risks and benefits and make informed decisions, people need to know what the experts know and, as importantly, what they don’t know. New discoveries happen, and the circumstances that affect health can change too, which means our knowledge and understanding of the actions that protect and promote health may shift.
In Part A of the Clear Communication Index you will learn why your materials should explain what authoritative sources, subject matter experts, and agency spokespersons know and don’t know about a health risk.
Here are two examples that show how to state the known and unknown about Zika virus health risks and behaviors.
Question: Can Zika virus be spread through sex?
What we know:
- There is evidence that the Zika virus can be sexually transmitted by a man to his sex partners.
- In the two cases of likely sexual transmission, both men had Zika symptoms.
- In one case, the man passed the virus to others a few days before he developed symptoms.
- The virus is present in semen longer than in blood.
What we do not know:
- How long the virus is present in semen in men who have had Zika.
- If infected men who never develop symptoms can have Zika virus in their semen.
- If infected men who never develop symptoms can transmit Zika virus through sex.
- If a woman can transmit Zika virus to her sex partners.
Here’s an example of what we know and don’t know about insect repellants and Zika:
- CDC recommends using EPA-registered insect repellents. Choosing an EPA-registered repellent ensures the EPA has evaluated the product for safety and effectiveness.
- We do not know the effectiveness of non-EPA registered insect repellents, including some natural repellents.
- Some natural insect repellents, often made with natural oils, have not been tested for effectiveness. Homemade insect repellents may not protect you from Zika or other diseases transmitted by mosquitoes