What You Need to Know About the Zika Virus

For those traveling to Central and South America, please read what you need to know about the Zika Virus.

The Zika virus (ZIKV) is an emerging mosquito-borne virus with the most common symptoms being rash, fever, arthralgia (pain in joints), and conjunctivitis (pink eye). Most people have a mild version of the virus which can last several days to a week. Severity needing hospitalization is uncommon. However, the virus made headlines recently because it was linked to reports of Guillain-Barre syndrome (type of bacterial infection) and pregnant women giving birth to babies with birth defects.

The virus originally was reported from Yap Island in 2007, French Polynesia in 2013, and Cook Island and New Caledonia in 2014. But in 2014, clusters of cases emerged in various regions in Brazil. From February 15-June 25 a total of 14,835 cases were reported from 12 different districts in the Brazilian state of Bahia.

Researchers suggest the virus spreads through mosquitoes.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) expanded the list of Zika-affected areas subject to a travel notice. At the present time, the list of countries or territories classified as a Zika-affected areas include:

Barbados
Bolivia
Brazil
Cape Verde Islands
Colombia
El Salvador
French Guiana
Guadeloupe
Guatemala
Guyana
Haïti
Honduras
Martinique
México
Panamá
Paraguay
Puerto Rico
St. Martin
Samoa
Suriname
Venezuela.

Currently all of the above are under Level 2 Alerts, which means people should practice enhanced precautions. The CDC lists some simple ways to protect yourself from mosquito bites:

HOTEL & LODGING

  • Stay somewhere with air conditioning or has screens on windows and doors
  • Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you’re outside or in a room that is not well screened

CLOTHING

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
  • Mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing, so treat clothes with permethrin or another EPA registered insecticide for extra protection (do not use permethrin directly on skin)

INSECT REPELLENTS -the CDC recommends the following repellents:

  • Off!
  • Cutter
  • Sawyer
  • Ultrathon
  • Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus
  • Autan (found outside the U.S.)
  • Repel
  • Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Expedition
  • Skin Smart

These repellents have active ingredients that provide longer protection.

TRAVELING WITH A BABY OR CHILD

  • Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months of age
  • Dress infants or small children in clothing that covers arms and legs, or cover the crib, stroller, and baby carrier with mosquito netting
  • Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child’s face

More information can be found at the CDC’s Zika Virus topic page, http://www.cdc.gov/zika/

Print Friendly
css.php