The Olympics are fast approaching. Rio has been in the news for a number of issues surrounding the Olympics, one of which being the Zika virus outbreak. Many other countries are also seeing increasing numbers of cases as well. Nadeen of The Sophisticated Life is an M.D. who has written a comprehensive piece on what you need to know about Zika virus. Here is some crucial need-to-know information.
What is the Zika virus and how is it spread?
Zika virus (ZIKV) is a virus transmitted by mosquitos. These mosquitos are active in the daytime and are of the Aedes species. They live indoors and outdoors especially near standing water. A mosquito becomes infected with Zika virus after feeding/biting a person already infected with the virus. If an infected mosquito then bites someone else, they can transmit the virus to that person. It is advised that anyone infected with the Zika virus avoid mosquito bites. This will prevent transmission from infected mosquitos to other people. In terms of human-to-human transmission, there are three modes possible. A pregnant woman that is infected with Zika virus can spread the virus to her fetus either during the pregnancy and possible at delivery. The virus can also be transmitted through blood transfusions and sexual contact. Therefore, it is possible for a man infected with the virus to infect his partner thru semen. This is important to know for couples who are trying to get pregnant. The virus usually remains in your bloodstream for a few days but may last longer.
What are the symptoms?
Not everyone infected with the Zika virus develops symptoms of Zika fever. About 1 in 5 people infected will develop symptoms similar to the flu. Symptoms will usually appear within a week of being infected by the virus. Common symptoms are fever, headache, muscle aches and pains, joint pains, a rash and red eyes. Zika fever typically lasts 3 days to 1 week. It is important to note that severe disease and deaths are rare. Currently, there is no cure or vaccine for Zika virus. Your health care provider will advise treatment of your symptoms with acetaminophen for pain, drinking lots of fluids and getting rest until the virus resolves.
Which countries are affected?
The Zika virus has been around since the 1950s. Previous Zika virus outbreaks occurred in Southeast Asia, Africa and the Pacific islands. In May 2015 the first Zika virus infection was reported in Brazil. Unfortunately, since that time thousands of people in Brazil have been affected. Other countries with active Zika transmission include Colombia, Dominican Republic, Martinique, Panama, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Haiti and the U.S. Virgin Islands. In the continental United States, about 30 people have been reported to have the virus. They are travelers who were infected in other countries. However, based on what we know about the transmission of this virus, it is possible for it to spread in the U.S. For a full list of countries affected, read this section on the CDC website.
What is the current travel alert in countries with the Zika virus outbreak?
A green bar indicates “Watch Level 1: Practice Usual Precautions.” In layman terms this a reminder to follow usual precautions for the destination you are traveling to. There is limited risk to travelers going to these destinations. A yellow bar indicates “Level 2: Alert.” This means you should follow enhanced precautions for these destinations. For travelers, there is an increased risk while visiting these areas. It is suggested that high-risk populations delay travel to these destinations. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued an Alert Level 2 for countries affected with the Zika virus outbreak. A red bar indicates “Level 3: Warning.” Red means stop, don’t go (my interpretation). There is a high risk to travelers and everyone should avoid non-essential travel to these destinations.
For more information on who is most at risk, what you can do to prevent Zika, and other resources, check out the rest of the post at The Sophisticated Life.
Nadeen is the creator and editor of The Sophisticated Life, LLC. She is an award winning travel blogger as seen on The Huffington Post, TravelChannel.com, and in Essence Magazine. Join her as she explores all that the world has to offer. In her blog posts she shares her personal insights on places including the historical and cultural aspects. She also includes travel tips and planning guides. As a major foodie and wine enthusiast she also writes about restaurants, wineries, and food and wine festivals across America. So, if you are living the sophisticated life or desire to do so, this is the blog for you!