How to Plan your Vacation with Prevention in Mind
The Zika Virus has made its way into international headlines, and locally transmitted Zika Virus has now been confirmed in the United States. Before Wayne State students depart for their Spring Break adventures, we want you to be aware of this virus and how you can help protect yourself from it.
How is the Zika Virus transmitted and what are the symptoms?
Zika is primarily transmitted through the bite of infected Aedes mosquitoes, the same mosquitoes that spread Chikungunya and dengue. These mosquitoes are aggressive daytime biters and they can also bite at night.
The Zika Virus is now believed to also be spread sexually. There is not much known yet about the sexual transmission of the virus, so anyone who has travelled to a high risk/infected area, is strongly advised to wear condoms 100% of the time with ALL sexual contact to avoid spreading this virus to others. Of course we always recommend condom use, but this is especially important not just while you are traveling, but when you return as well. Condoms should be used for 90 days after returning from one of the high risk areas.
About one in five people infected with Zika virus will have symptoms. This means 80% of people do not even know they are infected! The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon, and people rarely die.
Where is the Zika Virus normally found?
As of February 1, 2016, local transmission has been identified in at least 25 countries or territories in the Americas, including Puerto Rico. Currently, outbreaks are occurring in many countries. Zika virus will continue to spread and it will be difficult to determine how the virus will spread over time.
If traveling, please visit the CDC Travelers’ Health site for the most updated travel information.
I’m going to an infected Zika Virus destination for Spring Break. What do I do?
Ultimately, you need to decide whether or not you want to travel to an area with reported cases of the Zika Virus or high risk areas. When traveling to countries where Zika virus or other viruses spread by mosquitoes are found, take the following steps:
- 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.
- 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.
This will give you a good idea of how to help prevent possible exposure to the Zika Virus by planning ahead and being cautious while on vacation in high-risk areas. For more information regarding the Zika Virus, please turn to the Campus Health Center’s FAQ page: http://health.wayne.edu/disease-info.html
To make an appointment for any travel health before you depart for your spring break, please call the Campus Health Center at 313.577.5041.