Zika is primarily spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the same mosquito that can spread dengue fever, chikungunya, Zika, yellow fever and other disease agents. It is possible that other mosquitoes in the Aedes family may also be able to spread the virus.
It can also be spread:
Those who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant can pass the virus to the developing fetus, or at the time of birth if infected with Zika during pregnancy.
Through sex with a person who is infected with Zika. Zika can be sexually transmitted from an infected man or woman. But Zika can stay in a man’s semen longer than in a woman’s body fluids. Zika can stay in a man’s semen for months after infection and be transmitted through sex during that time.
Even if people with Zika do not have symptoms, they can still spread the virus.
Most infections (around 60-80%) do not cause symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they are usually mild and last 4 to 7 days. The main symptoms of Zika are:
Symptoms usually develop from 3 to 12 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
Due to the concerns about the risk of Zika being passed to an unborn baby, those who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should reconsider travels to areas with active outbreaks of Zika. The following conditions can be caused:
⚕️ It may be difficult to tell the difference between Zika symptoms and symptoms of other mosquito-borne infections such as dengue and chikungunya. Speak to your doctor about any symptoms experienced following travel to areas affected by these mosquito-borne infections.
Who is at Risk?
People who travel to Zika-affected areas, such as Africa, Asia, the Western Pacific and the Americas, are at risk of getting Zika.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website includes a map indicating the risk of Zika transmission in different countries - here.
There is currently no specific medicine or vaccine against Zika, although a number of vaccines are currently in clinical trials.
⚕️ Travellers can protect themselves from Zika by preventing mosquito bites. People planning to visit Zika-affected countries should seek advice from their doctor or a travel clinic at least 4-6 weeks before departing.
Protect yourself against mosquitoes and the risk of diseases they transmit:
Cover up while outside - wear loose, long-sleeved, light-coloured clothing, covered footwear, and socks. Mosquitoes can bite through tight clothing.
Treat clothing and gear with permethrin - Use 0.5% permethrin to treat clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents) or buy permethrin-treated clothing and gear. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website includes details about how to use permethrin - here
Apply mosquito repellent evenly to all areas of exposed skin.
The most effective repellents contain picaridin, DEET or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Natural or homemade repellents provide limited protection. Read the instructions to find out how often you should reapply repellent. Always apply sunscreen first and then apply repellent. Take special care during peak mosquito-biting hours.
The mosquitoes that transmit diseases such as Dengue, Chikungunya and Zika will bite all through the day
Stay and sleep in screened or air-conditioned rooms
Use a bed net if the area where you are sleeping is exposed to the outdoors.
Nets are most effective when they are treated with a pyrethroid insecticide, such as permethrin. Pre-treated bed nets can be purchased before travelling, or nets can be treated after purchase.
Avoid known areas of high mosquito-borne disease transmission or outbreaks.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has outlined special precautions here for (1) those who are pregnant, (2) the partners of those pregnant, and (3) those considering pregnancy.
Discover more about Zika at the following sites:
General Travel Advice Disclaimer - here.