What is the Zika Virus?
The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne virus transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes. The same mosquito also transmits 3 other vector-borne diseases -- dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever – across tropical and subtropical regions around the world.
What health problems can result from getting Zika?
Many people infected with Zika will have no symptoms or mild symptoms that last several days to a week. However, Zika infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects. Current research suggests that Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), an uncommon sickness of the nervous system, is strongly associated with Zika; however, only a small proportion of people with recent Zika virus infection get GBS. Once someone has been infected with Zika, it’s very likely they’ll be protected from future infections. There is no evidence that past Zika infection poses an increased risk of birth defects in future pregnancies.
Should pregnant women travel to areas where Zika has been confirmed?
No. Pregnant women should not travel to any area with Zika. Travelers who go to places with outbreaks of Zika can be infected with Zika, and Zika infection during pregnancy can cause microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects.
If I am traveling to an area with Zika, should I be concerned about Zika?
Travelers who go to places with Zika can be infected with Zika, and CDC has issued travel notices for people traveling to those areas. Many people will have mild or no symptoms. However, Zika can cause microcephaly and other severe birth defects. For this reason, pregnant women should not travel to any area with Zika, and women trying to get pregnant should talk to their doctors before traveling or before their sex partners travel. It is especially important that women who wish to delay or avoid pregnancy consistently use the most effective method of birth control that they are able to use. Those traveling to areas with Zika should take steps during and after they travel to prevent mosquito bites and sexual transmission of Zika.
What can I do to prevent Zika?
The best way to prevent Zika is to protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites:
- Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
- Sleep under a mosquito bed net if air conditioned or screened rooms are not available or if sleeping outdoors.
Zika can be spread by a person infected with Zika to his or her sex partners. Condoms can reduce the chance of getting Zika from sex. Condoms include male and female condoms. To be effective, condoms should be used from start to finish, every time during vaginal, anal, and oral sex and the sharing of sex toys. Not having sex eliminates the risk of getting Zika from sex. Pregnant couples with a partner who traveled to or lives in an area with Zika should use condoms every time they have sex or not have sex during the pregnancy.
What are the symptoms of Zika virus disease?
The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes. Other symptoms include muscle pain and headache. Many people infected with Zika won’t have symptoms or will have mild symptoms, which can last for several days to a week.
Can someone who returned from an area with Zika get tested for the virus?
Zika virus testing is performed at CDC and some state and territorial health departments. See your doctor if you have Zika symptoms and have recently been in an area with Zika. Your doctor may order tests to look for Zika or similar viruses like dengue and chikungunya.
I am not pregnant, but will my future pregnancies be at risk if I am infected with Zika virus?
Currently, there is no evidence that a woman who has recovered from Zika virus infection (the virus has cleared her body) will have Zika-related pregnancy complications in the future. Based on information about similar infections, once a person has been infected with Zika virus and has cleared the virus, he or she is likely to be protected from future Zika infections.
Men who have traveled to an areas with Zika or who have had Zika infection should wait at least 6 months after travel (or 6 months after symptoms started if they get sick) before trying to conceive with their partner. Women should wait at least 8 weeks after travel (or 8 weeks after symptoms started if they get sick) before trying to get pregnant.
If you’re thinking about having a baby in the near future and you or your partner live in or traveled to an area with Zika, talk with your doctor or other healthcare provider.
Which insect repellents work best to prevent infections caused by mosquito bites?
To prevent Zika and other diseases spread by mosquitoes, use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents on exposed skin. The insect repellent should include one of the following ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, or 2-undecanone.
Higher percentages of active ingredient provide longer protection. Always follow the label instructions when using insect repellent.
What does Journey suggest to travelers?
While our mission is to transform a generation through experiential impact travel, and to build 1,000 homes in priority countries for families in need in Latin America, your safety is our priority.
If there is an outbreak of Zika virus in the region, we will decide collectively as a team with our partners at TECHO to forego the trip to an alternate date. However, TECHO still needs support to end poverty in Latin America and has local volunteers on the ground willing to build the homes.
If you choose not to travel to build your funded home, but allow the funds to be released to TECHO to build without you there, you will still be giving a home to a family in need. Once Health and Government authorities recommend safe travel to the country you will have the opportunity to visit the home and meet with the family with Journey at an alternate date.
Is Journey making any immediate changes to their schedule trips?
We have not made any immediate changes to our trip schedule for 2016, but are actively following the Zika Virus and taking direction from WHO, (World Health Organization)the CDC (The Center for Disease Control and Prevention) and our team on the ground. Your health and safety is our priority and if you are not comfortable with traveling to the region, there is absolutely no pressure for you to commit to your original travel plans.
What happens if I booked my flight and no longer wish to travel?
You will need to contact the airline that you booked your flight with to see what options are available. Airlines are currently being sensitive to the Zika situation and offering assistance when postponing or canceling a flight due to Zika. However if you book a flight through a discounted airline site, there may be access fees and non-refundable. Journey is not liable for flight bookings. Please book your flight at your own discretion and risk.
WHO (World Health Organization)
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