Information for Students/Staff Traveling to or Returning from Areas where Zika Virus is prevalent
Although Zika is no longer in the headlines, it remains a threat for people living in and traveling to the countries where mosquitoes are transmitting the virus. Travel to affected areas should be done with caution.
Areas and countries where Zika transmission by infected mosquitoes is taking place include Asia, Cape Verde, the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, the Pacific Islands, South America, Southeast Asia, and Miami, Florida. For the most current Zika updates and the listing of specific countries, go to https://www.cdc.gov/zika/index.html
Zika is a mosquito borne virus that can cause microcephaly and other birth defects in a pregnant woman’s fetus. The virus can be spread to people through the bite of an infected mosquito. The virus can also be spread between sex partners during unprotected sexual contact, from a woman to her baby during pregnancy and perhaps by blood transfusion. Pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant should avoid travel to areas of active transmission. People with Zika can pass Zika to their partners even if they do not have symptoms at the time, or if their symptoms have gone. Women should avoid becoming pregnant and any unprotected sexual contact for at least 8 weeks after leaving an affected country. Men should avoid unprotected sexual contact for at least 6 months after leaving an affected country. The extended period for men is indicated because Zika stays in the semen longer than in other body fluids. Unprotected sexual contact includes vaginal, anal, and oral sex and the sharing of sex toys without the use of a condom or dental dam.
Recommendations for prevention of transmission by mosquito bites
All travelers to Zika affected areas should:
- Wear long pants and long sleeved shirts
- Treat clothing with permethrin
- Use mosquito repellent on exposed skin (DEET, Picaridin or IR3535). If you use both sunscreen and insect repellent, apply the sunscreen first and then the repellent.
- Help decrease the number of mosquitoes inside and outside of your home or hotel room by emptying standing water from containers such as flowerpots or buckets.
- Stay/sleep in air conditioned or screened housing and use a bed net if no a/c is available.
Symptoms of Zika infection
Only 20% of people infected with Zika virus have any symptoms. Those that do typically have a rash, fever, joint pain and red eyes. Symptoms last for 2 to 7 days and are generally mild. The virus remains in the blood of an infected person for about a week after transmission but it can be found longer in some people. The incubation period (time from infection to signs of illness is 3-12 days.)
Students who develop symptoms of Zika infection within 14 days of returning from a country where Zika transmission is high should contact their Healthcare Provider or Student Health Services for further evaluation. Staff should contact their Healthcare Provider.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.
Director Student Health Services