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Zika

Zika Virus:  Health Advisory & Travel Alert

Zika virus is spread to people primarily through mosquito bites. The virus can also be spread through sexual contact with people who have been infected with Zika virus. A pregnant woman can pass Zika virus to her fetus during pregnancy or at the time of birth.      

Zika virus infection causes fever, joint pain, rash and conjunctivitis (red eyes). It may also cause muscle pain and headache. Many people infected with Zika will have either no symptoms or only mild symptoms. The illness generally lasts from a few days to a week.  However, women who are pregnant when they become infected with Zika virus are at increased risk for fetal birth defects or other poor pregnancy outcomes.  The CDC recommends that pregnant women returning from areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing be tested for infection—even if they have no symptoms. Men who have traveled to an area with active Zika virus transmission and have a pregnant partner should abstain from sex or consistently and correctly use condoms for the entire duration of the pregnancy. Women with Zika should wait at least 8 weeks after symptoms started or last exposure to Zika before attempting to get pregnant.  Men with possible Zika exposure should wait at least 6 months before attempting conception with their partner. All persons returning from travel to an area with active Zika virus transmission should avoid situations where they might be bitten by mosquitos for three weeks. This will help prevent the spread of Zika virus to mosquitos in the United States.

Local transmission of Zika virus by mosquitoes has been reported in two areas of Miami-Dade County in Florida and the Brownsville area of Cameron County, Texas.  Zika virus transmission is also being reported in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Mexico, Central America, South America, the Caribbean, several Pacific islands, Cape Verde off the coast of Africa and Singapore.  For the latest Zika virus Travel Alerts, check the CDC website at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/ .

Zika virus infections are treated with rest, fluids and acetaminophen (Tylenol) for pain or fever.  There is no vaccine or anti-viral medication for Zika virus. Persons with recent travel to an area with active Zika virus transmission that develop symptoms of fever, joint pain, rash and conjunctivitis should contact their healthcare provider for an evaluation.  If Zika virus is suspected, your healthcare provider will contact the local or state health department to arrange for testing.

When traveling to areas with active Zika virus transmission, it is very important to avoid mosquito bites by:

 

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants
  • Stay in places with air conditioning or that have screens on windows or doors
  • Sleep under a mosquito net if outdoors
  • Use EPA-registered insect repellents
  • Treat clothing and gear with permethrin, an effective insect repellent

Persons considering travel to any area with active Zika virus transmission should follow all recommended precautions before, during and after their trip.  For the latest information about Zika virus, visit the CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov/zika/index.html or the Texas Department of State Health Services website at http://www.texaszika.org/ .