Everywhere you turn right now you here about the Zika Virus.  I’m seriously over hearing about it!  I’ve become numb to it and that’s sad because it’s a serious issue.

 

I have heard of some travel agents having guest change bookings because of the virus and their fears.  Others have had guests just altogether cancel.  I don’t think you need to do either of these things.  This isn’t a new virus.  Outbreaks of Zika previously have been reported in tropical Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands. Zika virus likely will continue to spread to new areas.   In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an alert regarding the first confirmed Zika virus infection in Brazil. The outbreak in Brazil led to reports of Guillain-Barré syndrome and pregnant women giving birth to babies with birth defects and poor pregnancy outcomes.

On January 15, 2016, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) upgraded their Zika virus travel health notice to “Alert Level 2”, (Practice Enhanced Precautions) with specific affected areas of the Caribbean and Central and South America.  As of January 26th, the CDC notice now includes the Dominican Republic and the U.S. Virgin Islands in the affected areas.  For the most up-to-date information on the Zika virus and countries affected, please visit the website: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices.

 

Here are the top questions with their answers about the actual virus:

 

What is Zika virus disease (Zika)?

Zika is a disease caused by Zika virus that is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week.

 

What are the symptoms of Zika?

About 1 in 5 people infected with Zika will get sick. For people who get sick, the illness is usually mild. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected.

The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Symptoms typically begin 2 to 7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

 

How is Zika transmitted?

Zika is primarily transmitted through the bite of infected Aedes mosquitoes. Mosquitoes become infected when they bite a person already infected with the virus. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to other people through bites. It can also be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth. We do not know how often Zika is transmitted from mother to baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth.

 

What countries have Zika?

Specific areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing are often difficult to determine and are likely to change over time. Please visit the CDC Travelers’ Health site for the most updated information.

 

What can people do to prevent becoming infected with Zika?

There is no vaccine to prevent Zika. The best way to prevent diseases spread by mosquitoes is to avoid being bitten. Protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites. Here’s how:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents. All EPA-registered insect repellents are evaluated for effectiveness.
    • Always follow the product label instructions.
    • 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.
  • If you have a baby or child:
    • Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months of age.
    • Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs, or
    • Cover crib, stroller, and baby carrier with mosquito netting.
    • Do not apply insect repellent onto a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, and cut or irritated skin.
    • Adults: Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child’s face.
  • Treat clothing and gear with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated items.
    • Treated clothing remains protective after multiple washings. See product information to learn how long the protection will last.
    • If treating items yourself, follow the product instructions carefully.
    • Do NOT use permethrin products directly on skin. They are intended to treat clothing.
  • Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are overseas or outside and are not able to protect yourself from mosquito bites.

 

What is the treatment for Zika?

There is no vaccine or specific medicine to treat Zika virus infections.

Treat the symptoms:

  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Drink fluids to prevent dehydration.
  • Take medicine such as acetaminophen to reduce fever and pain.
  • Do not take aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • If you are taking medicine for another medical condition, talk to your healthcare provider before taking additional medication.

 

So in most cases you get systems that seem like a bad case of the flu.  I understanding women who are pregnant being extra cautious because you have to protect your unborn child, but the general public I feel is pretty safe from this virus if you follow the CDC’s recommendations.  I don’t feel people need to cancel or change Spring Breaks or summer vacation plans.  I also don’t think the Summer Olymics need to be removed from Rio this year like some are suggesting.  It’s the dry months in Brazil when the Olympics happen and from this USA Today story the Olympic Officals are doing everything they can to minimize the risks to visitors.

What are your thoughts on this virus and how it’s being reported through the media?  Are you changing travel plans because of it?

 

 

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