If you’ve seen the news lately, you’ve no doubt heard about the Zika virus. But what is this illness that has prompted the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to advise pregnant women to delay their travel to nearly two-dozen countries? As travel medicine experts, our staff stays apprised of virus activity in foreign countries so we may counsel our patients on travel warnings, provide immunizations and offer prescriptions when needed.
Five facts to know about Zika:
- Zika is a virus spread through mosquito bites that can cause rash, fever, pink eye and joint pain.
- About 1 in 5 people infected with Zika will get sick. Symptoms related to the virus are typically mild and clear up within a week.
- Zika may be dangerous to pregnant women and their babies. Preliminary evidence suggests that the virus may cause microcephaly, a condition in which babies are born with unusually small heads.
- Zika outbreaks are occurring in many countries currently, prompting the CDC to recommend that women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant postpone travel to areas where Zika is active.
- Most importantly, don’t panic. Zika has not yet been identified in mosquitos in the continental United States. Cases reported in the United States were linked to foreign travel. For the most up to date information about Zika, visit the CDC website.
Zika is just one of many viruses you could encounter when traveling abroad. That’s why the best rule of thumb is this – before you head off on an adventure to somewhere exotic, check with a travel medicine expert. We’ll notify you of any health warnings in the area where you’ll be traveling, counsel you on how to avoid illness, and provide vaccinations and malaria prevention. We can also take some preventative measures and equip you with anti-nausea medication and/or antibiotics in case the street food you so bravely tried bites back. It’s no fun to be sick here, let alone in a developing country. Better safe than sorry, right?
Image Source: Agência Brasília