Travel Safety – Zika Update

By now, we all know that the Zika virus is spreading quickly. It’s not just affecting South and Central America – by this summer, health officials anticipate that cases of Zika will be commonplace in any warm weather areas of North America, too.

This tells us that avoiding travel to areas with current cases of Zika does nothing to protect us from infection – we will get it here as easily as there.

It is important to recognize the facts about Zika, which confirm that whether or not infection with this virus is possible, it only presents a risk to pregnant women, or women planning to become pregnant in the near future.

What the CDC is saying

from wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-information

ZIKA: Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Symptoms

  • 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 conjunctivitis (red eyes). Other common symptoms include muscle pain and headache. The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) for Zika virus disease is not known, but is likely to be a few days to a week.
  • The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week.
  • People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika.
  • Zika virus usually remains in the blood of an infected person for about a week but it can be found longer in some people.

Diagnosis

  • The symptoms of Zika are similar to those of dengue and chikungunya, diseases spread through the same mosquitoes that transmit Zika.
  • See your healthcare provider if you develop the symptoms described above and have visited an area where Zika is found.
  • If you have recently traveled, tell your healthcare provider when and where you traveled.
  • Your healthcare provider may order specialized blood tests to look for Zika or other similar viruses like dengue or chikungunya.

Treatment

There is no vaccine to prevent or specific medicine to treat Zika infections.

Treat the symptoms:

  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Drink fluids to prevent dehydration.
  • Take medicine such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) to relieve fever and pain.
  • Do not take aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • If you are taking medicine for another medical condition, talk to your healthcare provider before taking additional medication.
  • If you have Zika, prevent mosquito bites for the first week of your illness.
  • During the first week of infection, Zika virus can be found in the blood and passed from an infected person to a mosquito through mosquito bites.
  • An infected mosquito can then spread the virus to other people.