Summary (updated 14 April 2016)
- Zika virus disease is caused by a virus transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes.
- People with Zika virus disease usually have symptoms that can include mild fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or headache. These symptoms normally last for 2-7 days.
- There is no specific treatment or vaccine currently available.
- The best form of prevention is protection against mosquito bites.
- Pregnant women should be advised not to travel to areas of ongoing Zika virus transmission. See CDC list of countries with active virus transmission.
- From 1 January 2007 to 6 April 2016, Zika virus transmission was documented in a total of 62 countries and territories. Five of these (Cook Islands, French Polynesia, ISLA DE PASCUA – Chile, YAP (Federated States of Micronesia) and New Caledonia) reported a Zika virus outbreak that has terminated. Six countries have now reported locally acquired infection through sexual transmission (Argentina, Chile, France, Italy, New Zealand and the United States of America). Viet Nam is the country to most recently report mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission.
- In the Region of the Americas, the geographical distribution of Zika virus has steadily widened since the presence of the virus was confirmed in 2015. Mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission has been reported in 33 countries and territories of this region.
- From 2007, mosquito-borne Zika virus cases have been reported in 17 countries and areas of the Western Pacific Region.
- Based on a growing body of preliminary research, there is scientific consensus that Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome.
February 3, 2016. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued Level 2 – Practice Enhanced Precautions travel alerts regarding Zika for several countries in the Caribbean, Central and South America over the past several weeks. Some Zika cases have been also confirmed in the U.S. by individuals who recently traveled to these countries.
On February 1, 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a public health emergency over the potential complications of Zika virus. WHO has not issued any trade or travel restrictions to the affected areas; however, WHO advises that women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should take extra care to protect themselves from mosquito bites.
Note that Zika virus is primary spread to people through mosquito bites. Zika causes a relatively mild illness, and the most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes. Augsburg CGEE is NOT cancelling or withdrawing travelers from programming, however we we continue to monitor the situation and will post updates. Visit the CDC website for more information on this virus: http://1.usa.gov/1Qq5Iow
On Friday, January 15, 2016, The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has issued a travel alert for women who are either pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant traveling to 14 countries and territories in Latin America and the Caribbean where the Zika virus transmission is ongoing. This includes three countries where CGEE operates: Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador.
Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika. Four in five people who acquire Zika infection may have no symptoms. Illness from Zika is usually mild and does not require hospitalization. Travelers are strongly urged to protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites.
The CDC also states that “More studies are planned to learn more about the risks of Zika virus infection during pregnancy.”
As always, our staff in these countries are closely monitoring the situation and we will be following CDC/US Government recommendations and alerts and will provide updates as needed.