The Truth about Zika Virus

Zika virus Shutterstock

We answer a lot of questions.  From favorite restaurants to best surfing spots to best places to spot Africa’s Big Five, it seems as though the list is endless.  Questions that has been awfully prevalent as of late are those about the Zika virus.

What is Zika virus?

The Zika virus has been all over the news and it is a serious worry for travelers.  In case you don’t know what this rapidly spreading virus is, it is a mosquito-borne illness that can cause flu-like symptoms and, allegedly, it may cause birth defects.  [ As of the writing of this blog post, the CDC is in Brazil to ascertain if there is a link between Zika virus and birth defects.] Although we are just starting to hear about this virus in the Americas, it isn’t new by any means.

Found first in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands dating to the 1950s, the virus has never been as widespread as it is reported to be now. It wasn’t until May 2015 that the first case was reported in Brazil, where the virus has hit hardest by all accounts.  Although health officials are calling this a widespread epidemic, in reality only 1 in 5 infected will actually show mild, physical symptoms.

Zika Warning for Pregnant Women

Those who should really try hardest to avoid the virus are pregnant women or those trying to become pregnant.  If you do contract the virus and show symptoms, you’re likely to have mild flu-like symptoms including fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). Since the Zika virus can spread from a woman to her baby, it is recommended by the CDC that women in any trimester should consider postponing travel to anywhere the Zika virus has spread.

Zika virus test

Zika and the General Public

If you’re not pregnant, there are some very easy ways to prevent the virus and continue your travel as planned.  Make sure to wear long-sleeved shirts and pants.  Stay in locations with air conditioning or screens on doors and windows.  Always use an EPA-registered insect repellant.  Treat your clothing and gear with permethrin, and make sure to sleep under a mosquito bed net.  If you do think you contracted the Zika virus, make sure to consult a doctor immediately.  You can treat symptoms easily though with some rest, fluids, and acetaminophen.

Zika Brazil Olympics

Summer Olympics in Brazil – to attend or not?

One travel event that you could be very interested in is the Summer Olympics located in Brazil- smack dab in one of the hardest hit areas by the Zika virus.   The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday that Brazil is doing a good job making Brazil safe, and Brazil’s government is doing all it can to make visitors and athletes as safe as possible.  However, that doesn’t ease the minds of everyone.  Star soccer player Hope Solo, who could possibly be playing in the games, said that as of now she wouldn’t go to the games over concerns of Zika virus.  What about you?  Would you head down to Brazil for the summer games even when the Zika virus is so prevalent?  Sound off in the comments below.

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We are not experts in zika virus nor do we recommend a particular insect repellent. Some repellents are better for mosquitos and others may be better for ticks. Please talk to a physician, pharmacist, or knowledgeable expert for their suggestions.