Public Health Notices
The notices below provide information gathered from press releases and other public notices about current public health concerns.
- Zika is an infection caused by the Zika virus, which is spread primarily by a certain type of mosquito. It can also be spread through unprotected sexual contact.
- As of September 2016, Zika virus has been transmitted in nearly all of South and Central America. There has now been confirmed cases of Zika transmission in the Miami, Fla. area. For the most up-to-date information, see Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- The best way to prevent the spread of Zika is to prevent mosquito bites. Wear insect repellent, wear long sleeves and pants and stay inside.
- Many people who get Zika do not have any symptoms or very mild symptoms. These symptoms may include: fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis (pink eyes), muscle pain and headache.
- Zika has been linked to serious birth defects, such as microcephaly (babies born with small heads and brains). If you are pregnant or may become pregnant soon it is not advised for you to travel to areas where Zika has been transmitted. If you are pregnant and have a partner who lives in or has traveled to an area with Zika, do not have unprotected sex during your pregnancy.
See CDC Zika Virus for more information.
On January 15, 2016, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a travel alert to highlight countries where Zika virus is prevalent. The Zika virus is spread by mosquitoes and is therefore most prevalent in tropical environments. Generally, symptoms are mild and include fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes), lasting several days to a week. Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika, but severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.
Travelers can limit their exposure to Zika (and other mosquito-borne illnesses like malaria, Dengue fever and Chikungunya) by taking precautions to prevent mosquito bites.
Unfortunately, Zika is linked to a specific birth defect called microcephaly. This link is so strong that the CDC issued travel guidance for pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant, warning them to avoid visiting places where the virus is currently circulating. Such travelers should regularly review the travel alert for updates as more countries are likely to be added to the list.
If you are concerned about a risk of exposure to Zika related to upcoming travel, contact a specialist in travel medicine. Pregnant women, or women planning to become pregnant, should consult with their OB/GYN.