On January 15,
2016 the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) upgraded their
Zika virus travel health notice to “Alert Level 2”, (Practice Enhanced
Precautions) with specific affected areas of the Caribbean and Central and
South America. As of January 26th, the
CDC notice now includes the Dominican Republic and the US Virgin Islands in the
affected areas. For the most up-to-date
information on the Zika virus & countries affected, please visit the
Zika virus is
spread primarily through mosquitoes, which mainly bite during daytime hours. It
is not transmitted from person to person. Symptoms of Zika typically develop
3-12 days after being bitten and may include fever, headache, skin rash, joint
pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms
lasting from 2-7 days and most people who contract Zika experience no symptoms
at all. Comprehensive health information can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/zika/index.html.
month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised pregnant women to
postpone travel to 14 Latin American countries because of the virus. “Until
more is known and out of an abundance of caution, pregnant women should
consider postponing travel to any area where Zika virus transmission is
ongoing,” the CDC said.
The countries named in the CDC travel alert are:
In Latin America: Bolivia, Brazil, Columbia, Ecuador, El
Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay,
Suriname & Venezuela
In the Caribbean: Barbados, the Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe,
Haiti, Martinique, St. Martin, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands.
Cape Verde, off the coast of western
Samoa in the South Pacific
What can I do to protect myself?
recommends the following steps to avoid mosquito bites:
exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts & long pants, preferably a
an insect repellent approved by the EPA as directed. Higher percentages of active ingredients
provide longer protection such as DEET, Picaridin, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus
both sunscreen & insect repellent is used, apply the sunscreen first.
permethrin-treated clothing & gear, such as boots, pants, socks & tents. You can buy pre-treated clothing
& gear or treat them yourself.
& sleep in screened-in or air-conditioned rooms
a bed net if the area where you are sleeping is exposed to the outdoors
There is no
vaccine or cure for Zika, which was rarely detected until 2013. Little is known
about the virus, which has been linked to the birth defect microcephaly, a
medical term that refers to an abnormally small head – a serious condition that
can cause lifelong developmental problems. Other neurological issues have also
been reported. Symptoms include fever, red and bumpy rashes, joint pain and
pinkeye – but some patients have no symptoms at all. Zika virus had previously
only been associated with mild health consequences.
The virus has
affected thousands across the Americas since last year and is expected to
spread further across the region, where the population has not been exposed to
the disease and so lacks immunity, according to the World Health Organization.
advisory recommends that women who are pregnant in any trimester consider
postponing travel to areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. If
pregnant women do opt to travel to Zika affected areas, the CDC recommends
talking to their healthcare provider in advance and strictly follow steps to
avoid mosquito bites during their trip. Specific guidance for women who are
trying to become pregnant is also included in the CDC advisory. More information
can be found here: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/pregnancy/question-answers.html.