Tips If You Plan to Travel Over Spring Break Zika: What You and Your Family Need to Know
Before travel, check to see if Zika virus has been identified in the country or region you plan to visit. Go to http://www.cdc.gov/zika/geo/active-countries.html to see which countries have Zika. If Zika virus is present, call your healthcare provider before traveling if you are pregnant or if you are trying to become pregnant. During travel, take steps to avoid mosquito bites:
- Use an EPA-registered insect repellant (bug spray) according to instructions. Use the repellant day and night because the mosquitoes that spread Zika are active during the day and night. EPA-registered bug spray is safe to use if you follow directions as written.
- Wear long sleeves, long pants, and hats to protect your skin from mosquito bites. Consider using permethrin-treated clothing and gear (permethrin is a chemical to repel inspects).
- Sleep indoors in rooms with screened windows or air conditioning. If this is not possible, sleep under a mosquito bed net (preferably treated with permethrin).
- If you use sunscreen, apply the sunscreen first; then apply insect repellent.
- Visit www.nc.cdc.gov/travel/page/avoid-bug-bites for more information to avoid mosquito bites.
During or after travel, if you develop symptoms consistent with Zika (fever, rash, joint pain, and/or red eyes), contact the nearest healthcare provider for care. If your health care provider is in Arlington, s/he will contact the Arlington County Public Health Division to discuss testing options. There is no specific medicine to treat Zika, but you can manage the symptoms. If you become ill, you should:
- Take medicine such as acetaminophen to reduce fever and pain.
- DO NOT use aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs: e.g., ibuprofen or naproxen; brand names include Advil, Motrin and Aleve), because dengue infection, another mosquito-borne infection with Zika-like symptoms, is associated with bleeding in patients taking aspirin or other NSAIDs.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
If you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant during your time in a country with active Zika virus, consult with your medical provider. Men who have traveled to areas with Zika AND who have a pregnant sexual partner should wear condoms consistently and correctly or abstain from sex with a pregnant partner for the duration of the pregnancy. Sincerely, Marian D. Harmon, MSN, RN Samuel Stebbins, MD, MPH School Health Bureau Chief Public Health Physician