Yes, there was an epidemic outbreak in a few countries (mainly in South America) in 2016, with a couple hundred cases diagnosed mainly in Florida and Texas, and also a few other states.
The activity of Zika Virus died down, thankfully, since then, but even though media attention moved on the virus still exists and poses a serious risk to babies in formation in their pregnant mothers.
So, it is time to update guidelines on Zika (which the World Health Organization did recently) and to restore public awareness.
So, in countries where Zika is endemic (see cdc.gov for the list),
- Pregnant women should avoid travel to Zika countries altogether, especially during summer, when the Aedes mosquito (the vector) is most active.
- Try to restrict unavoidable travel to only cities, especially at high altitudes (over 6,000 feet above sea-level).
- Stay in residences with air-conditioning and tightly controlled air-spaces regarding mosquitoes (doors, windows).
- Pregnant or potentially pregnant women and their mail sexual consorts should,
- Dress with lightly-colored clothing, covering as much body surface as possible.
- Cover exposed skin areas with insect repellents with 30% or higher DEET concentration.
- Treat travel clothing with permethrin, as well as mosquito nets for sleep.
- If sexual contact while traveling through Zika areas is unavoidable or in the months after, practice safer sex with condoms.
- Optimally, women who are pregnant or at risk for it should avoid sexual contact for 2 months and men for 3 months after last possible Zika exposure.
- Those who have been in areas endemic for Zika who are sexual partners of pregnant women should practice safer sex throughout the pregnancy.
- Anyone who has been in a Zika area should continue mosquito repellents for 3 weeks post last exposure to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes in their locale and risking contaminating their local mosquito population with Zika.
- The measures used against mosquitoes for Zika are also protective against dengue fever, yellow fever, malaria, and chikungunya virus.
- If pregnant or possibly pregnant, consider a blood test for Zika virus 2 weeks or more after your last exposure (as well as for your sexual partner if they were in an exposed area):
International Medicine Center offers walk-in testing services (no physician scheduled visit needed).
Please check our websites for more detailed information on all your questions: traveldoc.com, rensimer.com
- International Medicine Center stocks permethrin and DEET repellents at low prices.
E. Rensimer, MD