South Carolinians traveling to areas of the world affected by the Zika virus should protect themselves and their families from Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases.
Zika virus is currently circulating in several areas of the world, including countries and territories in the Caribbean, Central America, South America, the Pacific Islands and Cape Verde. It, along with other viruses, can be acquired from the bite of an infected mosquito.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that pregnant women in particular should not travel to areas with active Zika transmission as the virus may cause serious birth defects. Pregnant women who must travel to one of these areas should talk to their doctor or other health care professional first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip.
“We strongly advise that anyone – especially pregnant women – planning to travel be aware of the countries where Zika virus is circulating,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell said. “In addition, travelers should consult with a health care provider and follow recommendations on avoiding mosquito bites to prevent all illnesses carried by mosquitoes.”
If you are traveling to a country where there is active Zika transmission, avoid mosquito bites by wearing EPA-approved repellent, wearing protective clothing and staying in facilities with air conditioning or with good window and door screens whenever possible.
Upon returning to the United States, continue to take steps to prevent mosquito bites for three weeks, even if you don’t feel sick, to prevent possible spread of Zika to uninfected mosquitoes.
Sexual transmission of Zika virus from a male partner is possible, so men who have lived or traveled to areas with Zika and their partners should take special precautions to prevent spreading the virus. Pregnant women should avoid sexual contact with men who have recently been in an area with active Zika transmission or use a condom the right way every time. Women and men with possible exposure to Zika virus but no symptoms of Zika virus disease should wait at least eight weeks after exposure before trying to get pregnant.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been more than 600 travel-related cases of Zika virus in the United States, including one confirmed case in South Carolina as of June 10, 2016. In all of these cases the virus was acquired while traveling to a country where Zika is spreading or sexually transmitted by someone who had acquired the virus while traveling. The virus is not currently known to be carried by mosquitoes in the United States.
Helpful information on travel and pregnancy can be found by viewing the following:
For more information on CDC travel advisories, visit http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/.
For additional information on Zika, visit www.scdhec.gov/Zika.