What You Need To Know About The Zika Virus Before Travelling

New evidence suggest a link between the Zika Virus in expecting moms and serious birth defects

Caribbean, you may want to stock up on mosquito repellent or think twice and call the trip off altogether.

A tropical virus called the Zika virus that can be spread through mosquito bites has been known to cause mild and short-lived illness. However, for pregnant women the long term effects of the illness have recently been correlated with something much worse than a “mild” bout of illness.

Sadly, evidence continues to grow suggesting that the Zika virus is linked to birth defects in newborns. There have been a large number of cases in Brazil where the virus seems to have resulted in a birth defect called microcephaly. This defect causes the child to have a smaller than average head size and to be under developed neurologically. According to Dr. Cynthia Moore from Centers of Disease Control and Protection, these birth defects are usually developed within the first trimester, although there has been evidence that it can be caused later in pregnancy. 

The Zika virus developed from an illness found in a monkey within the Zika forest, located in Uganda, back in 1947. It was native to tropical parts of Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands—but it has recently spread to Latin America and the Caribbean. 

U.S. health officials have asked people to postpone trips or be cautious when travelling in the following locations: Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Suriname, and Venezuela. 

The symptoms of this virus include fever, a rash, bloodshot eyes and joint pain. However, 1 in 5 people who are infected with the virus don’t have any noticeable symptoms. 

There have been at least 26 Americans who have picked up the virus since 2007, from travelling overseas. 

There have been findings that the infection has been picked up as close as Mexico, and mosquitos that spread the virus have been found across the southern part of the United States.

So, what can you do to protect yourself? You can do the typical things you do when you go on your annual camping trip or on evenings outside in the summer months—wear clothing that covers your arms and legs, and put on a lot of bug repellent (as long as it doesn’t contain DEET).

If you have just recently travelled from one of the countries above, it is recommended that you get a blood test as soon as possible. Although, results conducted in laboratories may take some time to receive. 

For more information and warnings on what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has to say, click here. 

 

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