The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a notice to take special precautions when making a trip to various warm areas where a mosquito-borne virus, called Zika virus, is spreading rapidly.
The CDC has been encouraging all visitors to areas of Latin America and the Caribbean to take additional precautions against mosquito bites to abstain from contracting the virus. Authorities increased the warning to a Level 2 travel notice and are currently prompting pregnant women and women attempting to become pregnant to consider staying away from the affected regions out of concern that Zika might bring about a catastrophic birth defect called microcephaly, a birth defect that results in a smaller-than-ordinary head and brain, as well as other formative issues.
- Zika is a virus spread by one particular kind of mosquito via bite. Not all mosquitoes in affected areas spread Zika — however the ones that do bite aggressively during the day.
- Since the Zika virus only stays in the bloodstream for a couple days to a week, according to Cynthia Moore, M.D., director of the CDC’s division of birth defects and developmental disabilities, it won’t infect the infant you later in your life, when the virus will be completely out of your system.
- In the event that you contract the virus, you might develop an itch. Around 1 in 5 infected individuals will become sick with mild symptoms ranging from red eyes (most common), rash, and fever — to vomiting and aches in the head, muscles, joints, head, and behind the eyes within seven days. The symptoms can last up to a week. No deaths have been reported so far.
- To prevent infection in affected regions, you’ll need to cover exposed skin; use an insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, IR3535; double check that your hotel room is screened in or air-conditioned. You can even wear clothing that contains permethrin, a synthetic insecticide. These products have been tested by the EPA and determined to be effective at repelling bugs, and are safe for children and women who are pregnant or nursing.
- Pay attention to travel alerts and stay away from areas where there are outbreaks. If there is no alert, still take these precautions. If you contract Zika, the only thing you can do is treat the symptoms with rest, extra fluids, and medicine that contains acetaminophen, like Tylenol. Then keep warding off mosquitoes with repellent, long sleeves and pants.
- You are more likely to encounter Culex mosquitoes, which can carry West Nile virus, outdoors and at night. Be that as it may, you are at higher risk of bites from the Aedes mosquitoes, which can spread dengue, chikungunya and Zika, inside. That is because Aedes are more active and feed during the day.
The uplifting news is, while it’s not proven completely, researchers believe once an individual has been infected with the virus, they are immune and won’t be able to become infected again, as indicated by Higgs.