Zika Virus

What you need to know about the Zika Virus  before traveling this Spring

applying insect repellent

Source: Thinkstock

The Zika virus infection is closely related to Dengue, West Nile virus and Japanese encephalitis.  The infection produces symptoms in 1 out of 5 people; when symptomatic it presents flu-like symptoms including, fever, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, and rash. The disease lasts about 2-7 days and is almost always mild not requiring treatment.  The virus is present in the blood for approximately 7 days.

Pregnancy and Zika

There has been a recent association between infection during pregnancy and microcephaly of babies in Brazil. Microcephaly is a condition in which the baby’s head size is much smaller than expected, leading to a range of neurologic and sensory defects that can be life threatening. Knowledge of the link between Zika and pregnancy outcome is evolving but until more is known the CDC recommends special precautions for pregnant female travelers:

  • Pregnant travelers should postpone travel to Zika risk countries
  • If travel cannot be postponed travelers are advised to take insect and personal protection measure are the main prevention stratagies.
    • Deet at 30-35% or Picaradin @20% are recommended
    • Long sleeve shirts and pants
    • Treating clothing with premetherin spray.
    • Reduce outdoor exposure

There is no known risk to fetus of women who have been infected in the past due to the limited time the virus in present in the blood.

Contact ADC’s Travel Clinic at 1-512-901-4486 for questions or advice about safe travel.