Although the Zika virus has been around since 1947, it has traveled extensively over the last couple of years and 64 countries around the world are now infected. There is currently no vaccine and despite an ongoing awareness campaign, which was created by masterof public health professionals, many people are still succumbing to the virus.
If you are currently planning on traveling to a country that has reported a Zika outbreak, read on for some tips on how to protect yourself as much as possible.
Before You Travel
Although there is currently no vaccine for the Zika virus, those traveling to a country where it has been reported are advised to speak to a healthcare professional at least 6-8 weeks before the trip is due to take place. Here, you will be provided with precautionary advice. If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, it is strongly advised that you avoid visiting any country with the Zika virus. However, if you have no other option, you will be best advised on how to keep yourself safe.
Remember also to take out a comprehensive travel insurance policy.
While You Are There
The Zika virus is transmitted by the Aedes mosquito, and most bites happen during the day. Travelers are advised to wear long, loose clothing that can be sprayed with insecticide. Using a mosquito repellent like DEET is highly recommended and this should be applied regularly. Mosquito nets should be used in bedrooms and at the entrance to hotel rooms/bungalows. You may also want to plan where you are staying around areas that have lower infection rates.
The Zika virus can also be transmitted through sexual intercourse. So, remember to take the necessary precautions. To avoid the risk of pregnancy complications, you will want to continue taking contraception or using condoms for the eight weeks following your trip.
Upon Returning Home
If you do contract the Zika virus, the good news is that it doesn’t usually take long to recover. Most people won’t even realize they have caught the virus, and those who do will experience flu-like symptoms,including a fever. This can usually be treated with pain killers and you will also be advised to rest and drink lots of water.
Upon returning home, you will also be unable to give blood for six months, even if you have experienced no symptoms of the virus.
Master of public health professionals from the University of Arizona and elsewhere around the world have been creating public awareness campaigns to try and make people aware of the complications that can happen by visiting a Zika infected country. If it is at all possible to avoid traveling there, this is advised, although we recognize that this isn’t possible for all travelers.
No matter which country you choose to visit, do keep these tips in mind. Keep yourself safe and protected and hopefully, you won’t encounter any issues while you are abroad or after you return home.