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April 27, 2017
Zika Remains a Threat to Travelers

While it has faded from many newsrooms, the Zika Virus still poses a real health threat to travelers, especially pregnant women. As the summer and mosquito season approaches, we created an updated report on the Zika virus to help you protect yourself and your family from this virus when traveling to high-risk areas.


The Zika virus is primarily spread through bites of mosquitoes from the Aedes species that has previously fed on an infected person. The Zika virus can also be transmitted through sexual contact, even if the person does not show symptoms. Pregnant women can pass the virus on to her baby during pregnancy or delivery. Additionally, there have been cases of transmission through blood transfusion and emerging evidence shows that the virus could be carried in tears and sweat. 

Experts do not currently know how long the virus remains in an organism but cases show that the Zika virus can be transmitted before symptoms start and after they resolve. 

Many infected people will not show any symptoms or will have only mild symptoms. One in five people will actually feel the effect of the virus on their body. Zika symptoms include fever, fatigue, rash, headache, joint and muscle pain, and eye redness. 


According to the US Center for Disease Control (CDC), Zika has spread in many countries in the southern hemisphere where the weather is known to be warm and humid, hence prone to mosquitoes. In the last few months, cases of Zika infection have been found in southern U.S. states such as Texas, California and Florida. 


For a complete list of countries with risk of Zika or to look up specific countries, consult the CDC’s World Map at


The greatest concern with the Zika Virus is when the pregnant women are infected. In these situations, the virus can cause microcephaly, brain damage, and congenital Zika syndrome which can include brain abnormalities, eye defects, hearing loss, and limb defects. It was recently confirmed by the CDC that 1 in 10 infected pregnant women had a baby with birth defects. According to the study, the risks were higher when the infection occurred early during the pregnancy.

The CDC has issued the following precautions for pregnant or soon-to-be pregnant women to follow: 
- Avoid travel to affected countries.
- If you must travel to an affected region, talk to your doctor and healthcare provider first.
- Strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip. 
- If your sex partner travels to an area of active Zika virus, use condoms during sexual contact or abstain from sexual activity for the duration of the pregnancy.


If you are traveling to affected areas, follow these steps to avoid mosquito bites:
- Use mosquito repellent containing DEET, picaridin, lemon-citronella oil or eucalyptus-based ingredients while traveling and for 3 weeks after returning. 
- Do not apply repellent to babies younger than two months old and do not apply to child’s hands, eyes or mouth.
- When using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first then repellent.
- If weather permits, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Spray your clothes with repellent.
- Use condoms for sexual activity during your trip and for at least 8 weeks (women) or 6 months (men) after returning.
- Use air conditioning unit and avoid opening windows and doors. 
- Sleep under a mosquito net.
- Shower often as excess of sweat attracts mosquitoes. 
- Refrain from using scented products and use unscented soap.
- Avoid areas with standing waters were mosquitoes are likely to thrive.


Medical research and clinical trials are underway to find a Zika vaccine, but there is currently no specific treatment available. While it is a great concern for mothers-to-be, for other infected people, symptoms usually resolve on their own in a few days. If you think you are infected, consult a doctor and treat the symptoms. Your healthcare provider will be able to make a diagnosis with a blood or urine test. Women who are pregnant or plan to be and show signs of infection should consult their doctor and obstetricians immediately.

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The content of this edition of AssistAlert is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace further investigation or personal observations. If you are planning travel, or are traveling in or proximate to the locations identified in this newsletter, you are encouraged to contact SecurAssist for additional information.

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