The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has upgraded its Zika virus infection travel health notice to Alert Level 2 (Practice Enhanced Precautions). This means the CDC believes there is an "increased risk in a defined setting or associated with specific risk factors; certain high-risk populations may wish to delay travel to these destinations."
This updated notice applies to the Caribbean, South America, Central America, Cape Verde, Samoa and Mexico. Please visit the CDC's Travel Health Notices page to learn of the specific countries in which there have been reports of ongoing transmission of Zika.
Transmission and Risks
Zika is spread through mosquito bites. It's most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis. These mild symptoms can last several says to a week.
Due to the risk Zika presents to the unborn children of pregnant woman, the CDC has issued the following statement: "Because there is neither a vaccine nor prophylactic medications available to prevent Zika virus infection, CDC recommends that all pregnant women consider postponing travel to areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing." If pregnant women must travel to a Zika-infected area, the CDC recommends they talk to their health care provider in advance and strictly following the CDC's recommended steps to avoid mosquito bites during their travel. For more detailed information on precautions for pregnant women, click here.
According to the CDC, travelers can best protect themselves from Zika by preventing mosquito bites. To do so, follow these precautions:
- Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Use EPA-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), or IR3535. Always use as directed.
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women can use all EPA-registered insect repellents, including DEET, according to the product label.
- Most repellents, including DEET, can be used on children older than 2 months of age.
- Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, sock, and tents). You can buy pretreated clothing and gear or treat them yourself.
- Stay and sleep in screened-in or air conditioned rooms.
If you feel ill and believe you may have contracted Zika, take these actions:
- Talk to your doctor or nurse if you develop a fever with a rash, joint pain or red eyes. Tell him or her about your travel.
- Take medicine, such as acetaminophen or paracetamol, to relieve fever and pain. Do not take aspirin, products containing aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen.
- Get lots of rest and drink plenty of liquids.
- Prevent additional mosquito bites to avoid spreading the disease.
Information collected from The Center for Disease Control and Prevention.