You’ve heard about the Zika virus, right?
Many popular tourist destinations around the globe have reported cases of Zika virus, so it’s important to educate yourself before you travel.
Here’s a little history on the Zika virus from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — according to the organization, “Zika was discovered in 1947 and is named after the Zika Forest in Uganda. The first human case of Zika was detected 1952 and since that time, outbreaks have been reported in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands.” Currently Zika cases have also been reported in the Caribbean, United States, and most of Central and South America. (http://www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/active-countries.html)
Zika Virus: Know the Facts before You Travel
‘Zika anxiety’ is prevalent right now but you can alleviate some of the stress by keeping in mind these facts.
- Fact: Zika is caused by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito.
Did you know? There are over 3,500 species of mosquitoes around the world, the Aedes (that carries Zika) is just one of them, and only female mosquitoes actually ‘bite’.
- Fact: If you’re bitten, you may develop symptoms such as headache, muscle and join pain, mild fever, rash, and inflammation of the underside of the eyelid. For most people symptoms are mild and last several days to a week after being bitten.
- Fact: Zika can be passed from person-to-person before symptoms start, while someone may have the infection, or after symptoms end.
- Fact: If a woman is infected during pregnancy, the virus can cause microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects.
- Fact: New reports suggest that the Zika virus can remain in semen for as long as 60 days after being bitten, so men who are planning to father children in the near future are being advised to use condoms until at least 60 days after returning home or avoid areas where Zika has been reported.
- Fact: Once someone is infected, he or she is most likely protected from future infections.
- Fact: The number of Zika cases in popular tourist destinations in Mexico remains very low – extremely low when you consider how many thousands of tourists visit Mexico annually – and most reported cases are in rural inland areas. Also, major tourist destinations and resorts have mosquito-eradication practices in place. While this does NOT guarantee you won’t get infected, it does lower the risk significantly.
Zika Virus Resources
Be sure to check these websites before planning your all-inclusive vacation, but equally as important, check with the resort you’re planning to visit to ask what measures they are taking to control the mosquito population on their property.
- Centers For Disease Control and Prevention – The mission of the CDC is to protect America from health, safety and security threats, both in the U.S. and foreign.
- NIH – National Institute of Health – The National Institute of Health is one of the world’s foremost medical research centers and agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It’s the nation’s medical research agency, making important discoveries that improve health and saves lives. It too is a valuable resource that citizens can use to educate themselves about health issues and outbreaks.
- U.S State Department – The U.S. State Department’s mission is to shape and sustain a peaceful, prosperous, just, and democratic world and foster conditions for stability and progress for the benefit of the American people and people everywhere. It offers citizens great information about countries, health issues, and more.
- WHO – World Health Organization – The WHO is the United Nations public health arm and monitors disease outbreaks, assesses the performance of health systems around the globe, and maintains relationships with more than 150 countries.
Tips for Lowering your Risk of contracting Zika
- Check with the websites above AND any resort(s) you may be planning on visiting, know the risk for that specific destination and what steps are being taken to control mosquitoes.
- Be sure to pack and USE insect repellent frequently.
- If you’re planning an excursion inland – for example to go zip-lining or on a tour – be sure to wear light-colored long-sleeved clothing (and still use the insect repellent).
- Couples who are planning to become parents soon should use condoms while traveling and for 60 days after returning home.
Only you can decide for yourself if the risk of getting Zika virus is worth keeping or cancelling your travel plans.
Has the Zika virus kept you from traveling? Let us know in the comments.