It has been a year since the first report of a Zika virus outbreak and concerns surrounding the threat are still in the air. Countries such as Brazil and Singapore are still in the process of limiting the spread of Zika. Steps to prevent another outbreak of serious cases of Zika are being taken in various other countries.
If you are traveling to Zika infected countries, taking extra precautions is still a necessary thing to do. While there are no more outbreaks to worry about, the spread of Zika virus is still happening around the world. To help you prepare better, here is some advice you need to know about traveling to Zika infected countries.
Understand the 4 Categories
Not all areas have the same level of Zika threat. The World Health Organization classifies different parts of the world into four categories. Category 1 includes areas that saw a new introduction of Zika virus after 2015, with ongoing cases still reported. These areas are to be avoided completely, particularly if you are pregnant or you are traveling with a pregnant woman.
The same can be said for Category 2. Areas classified in this category also show signs of ongoing transmission. Most of them have cases of Zika virus dating back to before 2015, but with serious cases of reintroduction afterward.
Category 3 and Category 4 are safer destinations. Category 3 includes areas with interrupted transmission of Zika virus. The virus is no longer found in these areas, but future transmission is still possible. Category 4, on the other hand, are areas with no cases of Zika infection at all.
General Travel Tips
The University of Arizona and its master of public health department recently released a list of travel tips for those traveling to Zika infected countries, particularly to areas classified in Category 1 and 2. Preventing mosquito bites is a primary focus since this is the prominent transmission method of the virus.
Always wear sufficient clothing. Covering as much of the body as possible can help prevent mosquito bites and the infection that follows. Adding mesh screens or netting can also help stop Aides Aegypti mosquitos from entering your room while you are in a Zika infected country.
Another great tip to keep in mind is to always use insect repellant. The World Health Organization specifies repellants that contain materials such as diethyltoluamide and icaridin as being highly effective.
Upon Returning Home
There is another important step to take after traveling to Zika infected countries, and that is to get yourself checked upon returning home. Doctors, public health experts, and students currently pursuing their MPH degree are all trained to anticipate Zika infection.
Aside from getting yourself checked after a trip to Zika infected countries, it is also advisable to use insect repellant for another two to three weeks. This will help prevent any transmission through mosquito bites. If an infection is detected, you are also required to avoid sex for at least six months to prevent transmission to your partner.
Zika virus still poses threats to many communities around the world. By keeping this advice in mind, you can travel safely and return home without getting infected by the virus.