Zika Virus and Travel Warning

The mosquito-borne Zika virus has been featured in media reports recently, with ongoing monitoring and health advisements from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the governments of affected countries. The situation is still developing, which is why there are frequent updates and changes to these advisements and to the lists of impacted areas.  For the most current information, please consult the following websites:

General travel guidance

Zika virus is transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito from the Aedes genus, the same mosquito that transmits dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever. The CDC has issued a level 2 travel alert – Practice Enhanced Precautions – regarding the Zika virus due to its potential association with birth defects. Although knowledge about Zika virus is evolving, at this time the virus appears to be associated with microcephaly (small head and brain in newborns) and other poor pregnancy outcomes in women infected during pregnancy.

The mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus bite both indoors and outdoors and are active during the daytime, so using mosquito precautions throughout the day during travel to areas with Zika is strongly advised. Follow these steps to prevent mosquito bites:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Use EPA-registered insect repellents as directed.
  • Insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin and IR3535 are safe for pregnant and nursing women and children older than 2 months when used according to label.
  • Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear (boots, pants, socks, tents).

Stay and sleep in screened-in or air-conditioned rooms, using mosquito nets as indicated. The major concern involves infection and illness during pregnancy, and the CDC has issued interim guidance for pregnant women, or those who are planning to become pregnant, who have visited Zika-impacted areas.

  • The CDC advises pregnant travelers to avoid areas with known Zika virus transmission or to postpone their travel, if at all possible.
  • Pregnant women, and women who are considering becoming pregnant, who must travel to one of these areas should consult with their healthcare provider before traveling.
  • Travelers who are pregnant, or are planning pregnancy and returning from a country reporting Zika, should contact their physician for counseling.

Outside of pregnancy, Zika virus disease otherwise is usually relatively mild and requires no specific treatment. Symptoms appear in approximately 1 out of 5 infected people and can include fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis (red eyes), muscle pain and headache.

Information for travelers

Read the Traveler’s Health Yellow Book for more information on Protection against Mosquitoes, Ticks, Fleas & Other Insects and Arthropods

 

Indiana Tech affiliated travel

Indiana Tech personnel who are planning any international travel are strongly encouraged to check in with the Human Resources to report their plans. Reporting of travel plans will help facilitate access to emergency assistance and follow-up, if needed, while on university-related international travel.

Prevention (as shown on the Center for Disease Control website, http://www.cdc.gov/zika/)

Prevention and control relies on reducing mosquitoes through source reduction (removal and modification of breeding sites – these mosquitoes can breed in just a teaspoon of water) and reducing contact between mosquitoes and people.

What we know

  • No vaccine exists to prevent Zika virus disease (Zika).
  • Prevent Zika by avoiding mosquito bites (see below).
  • Mosquitoes that spread Zika virus bite mostly during the daytime.
  • Mosquitoes that spread Zika virus also spread dengue and chikungunya viruses.
  • Prevent sexual transmission of Zika by using condoms or not having sex

Steps to prevent mosquito bites

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
  • Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are overseas or outside and are not able to protect yourself from mosquito bites.
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breast-feeding women.
    • Always follow the product label instructions.
    • Reapply insect repellent as directed.
    • Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.
    • If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent.
  • If you have a baby or child:
    • Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months of age.
    • Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs, or
    • Cover crib, stroller, and baby carrier with mosquito netting.
    • Do not apply insect repellent onto a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, and cut or irritated skin.
    • Adults: Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child’s face.
  • Treat clothing and gear with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated items.
    • Treated clothing remains protective after multiple washings. See product information to learn how long the protection will last.
    • If treating items yourself, follow the product instructions carefully.
    • Do NOT use permethrin products directly on skin. They are intended to treat clothing.