Students planning spring break trips to warm climates outside the United States, including Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America, should be aware that they are traveling to Zika virus-affected areas and are encouraged to take precautions. Because Zika virus is primarily spread by mosquitoes, travelers should protect themselves from mosquito bites. Sexual transmission of Zika virus from a male partner is possible, so travelers are also encouraged to use condoms.
Zika virus facts and prevention tips from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention:
Zika virus facts:
- Most people infected with Zika virus have no symptoms. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache.
- The mosquito that carries Zika virus is also responsible for Dengue fever, yellow fever and Chikungunya virus infection.
- Zika virus can be spread from a pregnant woman to her fetus and has been linked to a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly in babies of mothers who had Zika virus while pregnant.
- No vaccine exists to prevent Zika virus disease.
Prevention - Protect yourself from mosquito bites:
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
- Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are overseas or outside and are not able to protect yourself from mosquito bites.
- Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breast-feeding women.
- Always follow the product label instructions and reapply insect repellent as directed.
- Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.
- If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent.
- Additional CDC Zika virus prevention tips
Worldwide Caution: Students traveling abroad also should be aware of the continuing threat of terrorist actions against U.S. citizens and interests throughout the world.
Image courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention