Unless you’ve been living under a rock, by now you’ve probably heard about something called Zika.
In the event you’re not familiar, the Zika virus is carried by the Aedes aegypti (or Tiger mosquito, see the photo to the right) and is said to cause microcephaly a condition that causes babies to be born with small heads and brain damage.
In most people the virus is said to be mild. Those that should be worried are women that are pregnant or trying to conceive (TTC). While precautions should be taken, it’s important to remember the Zika virus typically only lasts in your system 1-2 weeks.
Maybe it’s just me but I feel like if it isn’t one things it’s another. If it’s not Zika, it’s Ebola. If it’s not Ebola, it’s West Nile and so on. Trust me, I’m not advocating for not doing anything to protect yourself (if you fit in the categories listed above) but the constant scare tactics are getting to be overwhelming. There are already countless news clippings and videos with conflicting information.
Based on what I’ve read, below are some tips for women who are pregnant or TTC that are traveling to Latin America:
Don’t get bitten. Easier said than done, right. If visiting one of the countries that has been affected by Zika, be mindful of what times of the day you’re outdoors. The mosquito that transmits Zika prefers mid-morning and early evening. If possible, stay indoors in screened-in or air-conditioned buildings during those times.
Wear bug repellent. There are many myths that DEET isn’t safe for pregnant women, but according to the CDC… Repellents containing active ingredients, such as DEET and picaridin, which have been registered with the EPA, are considered safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Cover your body. Wear long-sleeved shirts, loose-fitting pants (do not wear yoga pants or anything spandex), socks and closed-toe shoes.
Cover your feet. Interesting fact. Many mosquitoes, especially the Aedes variety that transmits the Zika virus, love the smell of feet. Strange but makes sense, I’d guess 80% of the mosquito bites I’ve gotten in life have been on my feet and ankles.
With that said, I’ve pulled together some resources about the Zika virus and additional ways to protect yourself.
- CDC Information on Zika
- Zika affected areas
- What’s The Best Way To Keep Mosquitoes From Biting?
- Information on use of DEET during pregnancy
- Short Answers to Hard Questions About Zika Virus (NY Times)
- Zika Virus FAQs: Top Questions Answered
- What Is the Zika Virus? Your Questions Answered (Video & FAQs)
- ABCNews: Confirmed cases in Central America
Other articles of interest
- Brazil may have fewer Zika-related microcephaly cases than previously reported (Washington Post)
- Op-Ed: How Scared Should You Be About Zika?
- All 3 big U.S. carriers to offer refunds on Zika concerns
I’d love to hear your thoughts…Are concerned or worried about the Zika virus? Will it prevent you from making any new travel plans in Latin America? Why or why not?