How to Protect Yourself from the Zika Virus and Still Enjoy Your Vacation
Mosquitos are the bane of our existence during the summer. But this year has brought with it a different kind of mosquito threat. By now, we have all heard the Zika virus warnings. Anytime the CDC and World Health Organization issues a warning, it is scary. Misinformation can spread quickly causing undo panic. We are here to clear up the rumors and give you the facts so you can protect yourself and your family and still enjoy a vacation.
What is Zika?
Zika is a mosquito-transmitted virus related to West Nile and dengue fever. Although it was first discovered in Uganda in 1947 it did not spread to the Western Hemisphere until sometime in 2013. It was not confirmed until 2015 and then it was concentrated to Brazil and was known only as “the mystery illness.”
Are there other ways to contract Zika?
Zika is spread primarily through mosquito bites although recently it has been discovered that an infected person can transmit it sexually. The CDC confirms that an infected person, typically one who was infected while traveling, can spread the virus to their partner who did not travel even if they are asymptomatic.
What are the symptoms?
1 out of 5 people infected will show no symptoms at all. Those who do show symptoms they are usually mild and do not last long. Symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes. Infected people generally do not get sick enough to go to the hospital and once you have had Zika, you are likely protected from any future infections.
Why is Zika dangerous?
So the majority of those infected never show symptoms and those who do recover quickly. So why all the warnings? Zika has been confirmed to cause microcephaly and other brain defects in unborn children. Microcephaly is a serious, potentially fatal brain defect causing an unusually small head and irreversible brain damage. Therefore, pregnant women should use extreme caution or avoid traveling to areas that have known Zika outbreaks. Women who have traveled to affected countries should talk to their health care provider before trying to become pregnant. The CDC recommends that women who have had symptoms not try to get pregnant for 8 weeks after symptoms. Men who have had symptoms should wait 6 months after symptoms start before getting their partner pregnant.
What countries have Zika outbreaks?
The full list of countries the CDC has issued travel warnings for is found here. Most are located in the Americas and South Pacific. Although countries whose altitude is above 6,500 ft. do not normally have a mosquito population.
How can I protect myself?
While the risk is greatest for pregnant women, everyone should take precautions. The good news is you can still go on a tropical vacation if you are not pregnant. The best way to prevent contracting Zika is to prevent mosquito bites. Below are the Center for Disease Control’s recommendations for protecting yourself from mosquito bites*:
▪ Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
▪ Use EPA-registered insect repellents that contain one of the following active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol. Always use as directed.
▪ Pregnant and breastfeeding women can use all EPA-registered insect repellents according to the product label.
▪ Most repellents can be used on children older than 2 months old. To apply, adults should spray insect repellent onto hands and then apply to a child’s face.
▪ Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD) on children under 3 years old.
▪ Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear (boots, pants, socks, tents). You can buy pre-treated items or treat them yourself.*
▪ Stay and sleep in screened-in or air-conditioned rooms.
▪ Sleep under a mosquito bed net if air conditioned or screened rooms are not available or if sleeping outdoors.
▪ Mosquito netting can be used to cover babies younger than 2 months old in carriers, strollers, or cribs to protect them from mosquito bites.
▪ Take steps to control mosquitoes in and around your home.
*Taken from CDC website
The Tropical Travelers wants to help you plan the perfect vacation and that includes helping you stay safe and healthy while traveling. If you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, always check with your healthcare provider before traveling. But because the risk is primarily to pregnant women and unborn children, if you are a healthy non-pregnant person, Zika is not a serious threat. You can enjoy a luxurious tropical vacation with fruity drinks and all.
Contact us at for any additional information or to plan your vacation. 1.800.479.0949 or request a consultation