I’m not putting a giant mosquito photo here. So gross.
There’s an issue at hand that isn’t making headlines right now and I figured I’d share some resources that could help you plan. I know safety isn’t the sexiest travel topic, but Zika is still a thing. It’s in 86 countries, and many of the women travelers I know have Zika locations on their travel destination wish lists.
I did a bit of research on the CDC and World Health Organization sites to get info you can use when planning your next trip.
Facts about Zika:
Unlike malaria or other mosquito borne illnesses, Zika doesn’t have a vaccine yet. What’s worse, it’s difficult to determine whether you’ve been infected and sometimes symptoms are mild or don’t show up at all.
What is Zika?
It was first discovered in the 40s in Ugandan monkeys. In March 2015, Brazil reported a large outbreak of the Zika virus and today a total of 86 countries and territories have reported evidence of mosquito-transmitted Zika infections.
How do you get Zika?
You can get Zika from a mosquito bite. Once infected, you may feel feverish or get pink eye or have headaches. Beyond the initial period that you have the virus, it can be transmitted sexually or through fluid exchange for months after you’ve been infected. Men can transmit Zika for six months after being infected (Zika lives longer in sperm) and women for two months.
Transmission can happen through vaginal, anal, and oral sex, and sharing of sex toys. Crazy, right?
Want to get pregnant?
Women of a reproductive age who intend to get pregnant should avoid areas with risk of Zika.
Pregnant women should NOT travel to areas with risk of Zika. If you must, please talk to your doctor about ways to protect your pregnancy.
If you or your partner travel to an areas with risk of Zika, you should use condoms from start to finish every time you have sex or not have sex for the entire pregnancy, even if neither of you have symptoms or feel sick.
“Zika causes microcephaly and other congenital abnormalities in the developing fetus and newborn. Zika infection in pregnancy also results in pregnancy complications such as fetal loss, stillbirth, and preterm birth.” In simpler terms, babies are born with smaller heads than normal, shorter limbs and in some cases, have been born with neurological problems and unable to hear or see.
Where is Zika?
Africa: Angola, Benin, Burkina-Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo (Congo-Brazzaville), Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo-Kinshasa), Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda
The Caribbean: Anguilla; Antigua and Barbuda; Aruba; Barbados; Bonaire; British Virgin Islands; Cuba; Curaçao; Dominica; Dominican Republic; Grenada; Haiti; Jamaica; Montserrat; the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, a US territory; Saba; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Lucia; Saint Martin; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; Sint Eustatius; Sint Maarten; Trinidad and Tobago; Turks and Caicos Islands; US Virgin Islands
North America: Mexico
What to pack if you have planned travel to a Zika destination:
Long pants and long sleeved shirts
Mosquito repellant with DEET
If possible, sleep with a mosquito net at night.
Safe Travel Zones:
As of 1/2019 the CDC has listed the following as safe travel zones and some of them are pretty spectacular.
Isla de Pascua, Chile
I get it. I do. Some of those Zika countries are the hottest destinations right now and others offer incredible travel deals. But be aware, be informed, and be prepared. Here’s to you being a healthy tourist.
This is the jerky Aedes mosquito.
For more information or an updated list on Zika, visit https://www.cdc.gov/zika/