This article is accurate as of the time of its writing on February 29, 2016
On Monday February 1, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced an international health emergency over Zika virus. There is daily growing concern over the rapidly spreading virus as four million people are expected to be infected by the end of the year. The CDC has advised pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant against traveling to virus stricken countries, as the CDC and Pan American Health Organization have been investigating the possible association between Zika and microcephaly.
At this time, Thomson Family Adventures is continuing to run its scheduled trips. While we are operating our trips going forward, we want our travelers to exercise caution while traveling to any destination.
Here is what you need to know about Zika virus per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as of 02/29/2016:
Where have virus cases been confirmed?
Prior to 2015, the virus has been found in Southeast Asia, Africa and the Pacific Islands.
In May 2015, the Pan American Health organization (PAHO) issued an alert of confirmed virus cases in Brazil.
The virus has spread beyond Brazil into several Latin American countries. Countries with active transmission of Zika virus that Thomson Family Adventures travel to are Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico and Panama.
No local mosquito-borne Zika virus disease cases have been reported in the U.S. states but there have been travel-associated cases.
How is the virus spread?
The virus is spread to humans by mosquito bites. There have been cases reported of Zika spreading through blood transfusion and sexual contact. Zika can be found in the bloodstream and passed from an infected person to a mosquito through mosquito bites. An infected mosquito can then spread the virus to other people. The virus can remain in the bloodstream for a few days but it can remain for a longer period of time.
What are the common symptoms of the virus?
About 1 in 5 people infected with Zika will become ill. Symptoms of Zika virus are joint pain, rash, fever or conjunctivitis. Muscle pain and headache may also occur. While the incubation period of the virus is not known, it is believed to be a few days to a week.
The illness is mild and symptoms can last from a few days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Some patients may not realize they are ill due to mild symptoms.
Is there treatment for the virus?
There are no known vaccines or medications used to prevent and/or treat Zika virus. In order to treat the symptoms, get plenty of rest and take pain reliever such as acetaminophen for joint and muscle aches, drink fluids. Do not take aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen and naproxen. If you are taking medicine for another medical condition, talk to your healthcare provider before taking additional medication.
Who is likely at risk to contract Zika?
Anybody can contract Zika.
There is more concern for women of child-bearing age who seek to become pregnant and pregnant women in any trimester. The CDC has advised pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant against traveling to virus stricken countries, as the CDC and Pan American Health Organization have been investigating the possible association between Zika and microcephaly.
For others who may contract Zika, symptoms of the virus are joint pain, rash, fever or conjunctivitis. Muscle pain and headache may also occur. While the incubation period of the virus is not known, it is believed to be a few days to a week. The illness is mild and symptoms can last from a few days to a week. Some patients may not realize they are ill due to mild symptoms.
How can you prevent infection of Zika virus?
If you are traveling abroad to countries where Zika virus or other viruses spread by mosquitos are found, wear long sleeved shirts and long pants.
Stay in air conditioning or places that have screen windows and doors.
Treat clothing and gear with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated items and sleep under a mosquito bed net when traveling or outside.
Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered insect repellants ONLY, as these have been evaluated for effectiveness.
Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.
How can you help prevent the spread of Zika?
If you have Zika, prevent mosquito bites during the first week of your illness. Symptoms can last from a few days to a week. Zika can be found in the blood and passed from an infected person to a mosquito through mosquito bites. An infected mosquito can then spread the virus to other people.
Are you immune for life once infected?
Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections.
Some of this information is directly copied from the CDC website. For complete information about Zika virus, please visit: