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Important information on the Zika virus and travel plans

Friday, February 5, 2016

If you are planning to travel to South America, Mexico or the Caribbean, watch out for the Zika virus! According to the World Health Organization, taking precautions to avoid mosquito bites is key to preventing infection.

The Zika virus is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. The symptoms may include fever, headaches, conjunctivitis (redness of the eye) and skin rashes, as well as muscle and joint pain. The symptoms of this disease are usually mild and last only a few days.

Pregnant women may be exposed to greater risk, however.

The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends that pregnant women, and those who expect to become pregnant, discuss their travel plans with their doctor to assess the risk and consider postponing trips to areas where the virus is found to a later date. If your trip cannot be postponed, pregnant women or those planning to become pregnant, must take strict precautions to prevent getting bitten by mosquitoes.

According to the World Health Organization, strict measures must be taken to avoid being bitten by infected mosquitoes. Pregnant women and women of child-bearing age must take the same precautions all travellers have to take. These precautions are as follows:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and a hat to avoid exposing your skin to mosquitoes;
  • Apply a mosquito repellent, as required by the health authorities, and follow the directions on the label;
  • Protect yourself by using an insecticide-treated bed net if you sleep during the day;
  • Identify and eliminate potential breeding sites for mosquitoes.

The World Health Organization has released a Q&A on the Zika virus disease. Read it for more information.

You can also visit the Government of Canada website for travel advisory updates at travel.gc.ca

Source: Empire Life