The Zika virus has been heavily featured in the news recently which means that our clients have a lot of questions about what it is and how they can prepare for travel to countries that have confirmed cases of the virus. We will go over the basics and provide links to more information should you be interested.
What is the Zika virus?
The zika virus is a mosquito borne disease that usually causes very mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. It may cause a rash, pain in your joints, fever, and red eyes. These symptoms could last for a few days or as long as week. Cases of anything more serious are extremely rare.
Learn more about the disease here:
It doesn’t sound so bad… Why is it such a big deal?
Recently in Brazil (and a few other countries) there has been a dramatic increase in the rate of birth defects such as babies with abnormally small heads and malformed brains (also known as microcephaly). Scientists are not positive, but they believe there might be a correlation between Zika and these birth defects.
Brazilian researchers investigating the increase in cases of microcephaly found Zika virus present in the womb fluids of the mothers. The CDC has also discovered Zika in the brains of babies who died of microcephaly.
World Health Organization and Zika
Because of the discoveries linking Zika and birth defects, the WHO has advised pregnant women or women are trying to become pregnant to avoid travelling to countries where the Zika virus is present. If travel cannot be avoided, there are some guidelines to follow which can help prevent mosquito bites.
Which countries currently have the Zika virus?
Since the list of countries is constantly changing we will cannot list them all here but at the time of this article the disease was confirmed in most Central and South American countries. Please see an up to date list at the link below:
Is there a vaccine? How can I protect myself?
Unfortunately there is not currently a vaccine for the Zika virus. However, there are some simple things one can do to prevent mosquito bites such as using an effective mosquito repellant, wearing adequate clothing and using mosquito nets over your bed when you sleep. Atlas Immunizations offers many of these items and also information on how to protect yourself.
You can also visit the link below to see some of the recommended precautions to prevent Zika infection:
Where can I get the latest information?
For the most up to date information we recommend visiting the World Health Organization’s page for the Zika virus here:
If you have any questions about travelling or vaccinations and disease prevention, feel free to use our contact us page. If you have a trip booked to one of the areas with Zika, you should still get all the other available vaccinations so be sure to make an appointment with us.