Out of an abundance of caution, the CDC has issued an “Alert Level 2” for travelers visiting many popular destinations due to local transmissions of the mosquito-borne Zika virus. The CDC issued its alert after the Brazilian health ministry confirmed a link between the disease and a high incidence of birth defects.
“Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon,” according to the CDC.
About 1 in 5 people infected with Zika virus become ill (i.e., develop Zika)
- The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes. Other symptoms include muscle pain, headache, pain behind the eyes, and vomiting.
- The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week.
- Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.
- Deaths are rare.
- The symptoms of Zika are similar to those of deng and chikungunya, which are diseases caused by other viruses spread by the same type of mosquitoes.
- There is no vaccine or medicine to treat Zika, but symptoms may be treated with plenty of rest, drinking fluids to prevent dehydration and taking fever reducers.
If you have a trip booked to one of the infected areas, you may be able to switch your destination or receive a refund. Last week I was able to switch a client in her 2nd trimester to a different destination without any hassles.
There are precautions travelers can take to minimize their risk of being bitten by an infected mosquito.
While there is no vaccine or medication to prevent Zika, the CDC offers some tips on avoiding mosquito bites
- Use insect repellents containing DEET. Want a more natural approach? Essential oils including lemongrass and eucalyptus are natural repellants. Personally I’ve found good old fashioned Avon SOS works amazing too. Apparently the mosquitoes of the Caribbean don’t like it anymore than ours do.
- Take garlic pills a week before your trip
- Don’t eat bananas the week before you leave – mosquitoes love potassium!