The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has added the U.S. Virgin Islands and Dominican Republic to its Zika virus travel alerts. Previously, the agency issued an alert for people traveling to the following regions and countries where Zika virus transmission is ongoing: the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Cape Verde, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Martin, Samoa, Suriname, and Venezuela.
As more information becomes available, the CDC’s travel alerts will be updated. Travelers to areas where cases of Zika virus infection have been confirmed recently are at risk of being infected with the Zika virus, according to the agency. Mosquitoes that spread Zika are aggressive daytime biters, prefer to bite people, and live indoors and outdoors near people. There is no vaccine or medication available for Zika virus. The best way to avoid Zika virus infection is to prevent mosquito bites.
Some travelers to areas with ongoing Zika virus transmission will become infected while traveling but will not become sick until they return home, the CDC says. Some people who are infected do not have any symptoms. Symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes. Other commonly reported symptoms include muscle pain and headache.
The illness is usually mild, with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon, and case fatality is low. Travelers to the areas listed above should monitor for symptoms or illness upon their return home. If they become ill, they should tell their health care professionals where they have traveled and when.
Until more is known, the CDC continues to recommend that pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant take the following precautions:
- Pregnant women should consider postponing travel to the areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Pregnant women who must travel to one of these areas should talk with their doctors or other health care professionals first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip.
- Women trying to become pregnant should consult their health care professionals before traveling to these areas and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip.
Guillain–Barré syndrome (GBS) has been reported in patients with probable Zika virus infection in French Polynesia and Brazil. Research efforts will examine the link between Zika and GBS, according to the CDC.
Source: CDC; January 26, 2016.