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Zika Virus: What You Need To Know

Five Things a Traveller Needs to Know about Zika | Travel Health

 

In our 23+ year history in travel health we have never seen an infectious disease thread ruling the media and creating world wide concern as with Zika virus in the last week. Understandable, since the health risk is a major one.
So, let’s answer the five most frequently asked questions that we have received in the last days:

 
Care Plus Travel Health | EVAQ8.co.uk the UK's Emergency Preparedness specialist(from our friends at Care Plus)  
  1. What is Zika virus exactly?
  2. Where is Zika present?
  3. What does the Zika outbreak mean for travellers?
  4. How can I protect myself from Zika?
  5. Why is Zika a pandemic now, while existing for over 60 years?
 

ZIKA Frequently Asked Questions

 

ZIKA virus - what travellers need to know

 

ZIKA: countries and territories with confirmed cases of ZIKA virus |WHO

 

ZIKA virus | bite prevention | Travel Health WHO

 

1) What is Zika virus exactly?

Zika is a virus. Zika is related to Dengue and Chikungunya. One out of four people carrying Zika will develop symptoms. Symptoms occur 2-7 days after the bite/ infection and last for a couple of days. Symptoms known are mild fever, skin rash, head ache, joint pain and conjunctivitis. Zika may potentially cause Guillain-Barré syndrome or microcephaly in babies. There is no vaccine available yet. Zika virus is transmitted by mosquitoes of the Aedes family. These are (mostly) daytime biting mosquitoes active in inhabited areas. Pregnant women have the same risk of Zika infection as the rest of the population.
 
 

2) Where is Zika present?

Zika is present in Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique,  Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, Suriname, US Virgin Islands, Venezuela. See the PHO/ WHO  map where Zika is present: (source WHO 29th January 2016) and also a timeline at healthmap.org Zika outbreak.
 
 

3) What does it mean for travellers?

Travellers need to know if their desired travel destination is a Zika risk area. So check before making your travel plans final. If you do choose to a Zika risk area, make an informed decision. Pregnant women should consider NOT going ahead and maybe choose a non-Zika destination or postpone the trip. If you do decide to travel to a Zika risk destination, that’s fine, but do take note of the precautions necessary to stay healthy!
 
 

4) How can I protect myself from Zika?

Simple. No mosquito (bite), no Zika. So, now that you know that a (daytime) biting mosquito can transmit Zika virus. Our advice is:
- Clean up water depots around you. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in it. You don’t want those eggs to hatch creating more mosquitoes around you!
- Don’t get bitten. Here are our 3 golden rules:
a) Wear mosquito proof clothing and (permethrin impregnated) socks
b) Apply high grade insect repellent with DEET or Picaridin or Citriodiol (lemon eucalyptus) on exposed skin
c) Sleep under an impregnated mosquito net
 
 

5) Why is Zika a pandemic now, while existing for over 60 years?

Well, difficult question. Zika virus is the next in line to gain territory, after West-Nile virus in the ninetees, Dengue and Chikungunya in more recent years. The mosquito species (Aedes family) is an important carrier of these viruses. Travelers play a role in spreading, widening the geographical area, as did the second hand tire trade and the Lucky Bamboo trade before. Zika will definately not be the last vector borne infectious disease we will see arrise and spread. Habitual change is necessary to contain or better decrease the mosquito population and to promote personal protection against mosquito bites.

Having said all this, panic will not help, common sense will help. Do contribute to the latter.

Arnoud Aalbersberg, co-founder Tropicare, the company that provides Safe travels, great stories (29Jan2016); edited and expanded by the team at EVAQ8.co.uk the UK's Emergency Preparedness specialist. 
 
     
   
Also of interest - EVAQ8 Resilience Blog
Mosquitoes – Harmless Nuisance or Threat in the UK?

 

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