What Travelers Need To Know About Zika Virus

By Dr. Matias Nochetto, MD
Aedes aegypti mosquitoes transmit the Zika virus
Aedes aegypti mosquitoes transmit the Zika virus
Zika virus is spread by the Aedes Mosquito. Image Courtesy of Muhammad Mahdi Karim (GNU Version 1.2 only)

Zika virus is an emergent tropical disease transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes. The disease typically presents as a mild fever with a skin rash and conjunctivitis, and it usually resolves between 2 to 7 days.

The main concern with Zika virus are pregnant women who have an increased risk of microcephaly in the newborn. Pregnant travelers should be aware when traveling to countries and territories with confirmed cases of autochthonous transmission. There is no specific treatment, and the best way to prevent it is protection against mosquito bites.

If you travel to these Zika-affected areas, watch for the mosquito Aedes aegypti (same mosquito that transmits dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever) and use repellents with DEET or permethrin. Spray on exposed skin as directed by the product label and apply on clothes, bed nets, and mosquito screens on doors and windows.

To learn more, refer to the World Health Organization's Fact Sheet on Zika Virus.

Countries and territories with confirmed cases of Zika virus in the Americas, 2015-2016. Source: PAHO.org
PAHO.org map of countries and territories with confirmed cases of Zika virus in the Americas, 2015-2016.

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