Clueing up on the Zika Virus
Originally discovered in Uganda’s Zika Forest over 60 years ago, the Zika Virus was first found in a mosquito bitten Rhesus Monkey. As of the 1st February 2016 the World Health Organisation declared the virus a global health emergency. Take a look below to find out more about the virus and how it may affect your travels.
What is the Zika Virus?
The Zika Virus is a mosquito borne infection being passed to humans, little is currently known about the virus and there is no vaccination or treatment.
The virus is exceptionally dangerous for pregnant women or women planning to become pregnant, there have been numerous links affecting foetuses and babies being born with brain damage and microcephaly.
Where is the Zika Virus?
Below is a list of countries where the Zika Virus is currently active and being transmitted (Please note this list may change if the virus spreads further):
- American Samoa
- Cape Verde
- Costa Rica
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
- French Guiana
- New Caledonia
- Puerto Rico
- Saint Martin
- Solomon Islands
- US Virgin Islands
At Questor Insurance we advise checking to see if your desired destination has been affected by the virus before booking your holiday and before your travels. The government website is being updated on a regular basis to give information on affected countries.
The virus has an incubation period of 14 days, however many people who are infected with the virus show no symptoms. For those who do show symptoms they are often mild and are shown for up to 7 days. Typical symptoms of the virus include:
- A mild fever
- Muscle aches and joint pain
- Conjunctivitis and eye pain
The full effects of the virus are currently unknown, the virus stays in the blood stream for 7- 10 days but continues to live in bodily fluids for several months. There have been links with the Zika Virus to neurological and autoimmune diseases such as the Guillian – Barre syndrome where the body’s immune system attacks itself. There are also increasing links to serious birth defects such as microcephaly where babies are born with smaller than usual heads causing severe brain damage and often death.
There is no treatment for the Zika Virus, it is advised that symptoms are managed with supportive nursing care.
If travel is unavoidable to an area or destinations affected by the virus it is recommended that you are vigilant and follow protocols to avoid mosquito bites:
- If you are pregnant, planning to have a baby or have a weakened immune system always discuss your travel plans with a health care professional
- Keep skin covered and not exposed
- Use insect repellent
- Avoid mosquito breeding sites such a large areas of water
- Sleep under mosquito nets
- Keep windows and doors closed
- Clean or cover water containers to remove areas mosquitos are likely to breed
- Use a condom for 28 days after traveling to an infected area
- Use a condom for 6 months if you or your partner has had any symptoms of the virus
- Seek advice from a medical professional before trying for a baby
*(Please note this blog is for information purposes, if you have any concerns please visit the government travel advice website or the World Health Organisation)
Date Created: 17 February 2016 by Kim Coppins