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How to prevent and look out for Zika this summer

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Posted at 2:29 PM, Jun 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-20 14:29:40-04

Summer is finally here, but the warm weather also means mosquito season. The CDC shares important information about the Zika virus and travel locations to watch out for.

Most know Zika can be contracted through mosquito bites, but it can also spread through sexual contact.

Females and males who have traveled to high-risk Zika areas should use condoms with a partner or be abstinent from six for eight months. Women should wait eight months after they are bit, and men should wait six. For the travel areas with high-risk of the Zika virus click here.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends pregnant women not to travel to areas with risk of Zika, but if the women do, they should contact their healthcare provider.

“While we want everyone to have fun on their vacations this summer, we want them to be aware of the risk of Zika when traveling to Zika-affected areas,” explained Maryland Department of Health Public Health Services Deputy Secretary Howard Haft, MD.

A vaccine to prevent the virus does not exist and there is no treatment for its related birth defects. People infected will suffer from symptoms such as fever, rash, headache, joint pain, red eyes, and muscle pain which lasts from several days to a week.

Maryland has reported 247 probable cases of Zika virus as of May 30, 2018. More than 5,500 Zika virus cases have occurred in the U.S. and over 37,000 in U.S. Territories, according to the CDC.

 

The virus can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus and that infection during pregnancy can cause microcephaly, a birth defect characterized by smaller heads, underdeveloped brains in newborns, and several fetal brain defects. For more information on microcephaly click here.

When traveling to countries where Zika virus or other viruses spread by mosquitoes are found, travelers are advised to 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, even for pregnant and breastfeeding 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.
  • 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 the skin. They are intended to treat clothing.