Local transmission of Zika virus has been detected in Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, South America, Cape Verde, Singapore, and certain Pacific Islands. Local transmission means that mosquitoes in these areas have been infected with Zika virus, spreading it to people. Because it is spread by mosquitoes, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that travelers to these areas protect themselves from mosquito bites.
There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika. Travelers can protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites:
- Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Use EPA-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), or IR3535. Always use as directed.
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women can use all EPA-registered insect repellents, including DEET, according to the product label.
- Most repellents, including DEET, can be used on children aged >2 months.
- Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents). You can buy pre-treated clothing and gear or treat them yourself.
- Stay in places with air conditioning and window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
- Sleep under a mosquito bed net if air conditioned or screened rooms are not available or if sleeping outdoors.
- Mosquito netting can be used to cover babies younger than 2 months old in carriers, strollers, or cribs to protect them from mosquito bites.
Zika can be passed through sex from a person who has Zika to sex partners. Condoms (and other barriers) can reduce the chance of getting Zika from sex.
Most people infected with Zika virus do not feel sick. If a mosquito bites an infected person while the virus is still in that person’s blood, it can spread the virus by biting another person. Even if they do not feel sick, travelers returning to the United States from an area with Zika should take steps to prevent mosquito bites for 3 weeks so that they do not spread Zika to uninfected mosquitos.
Travelers to areas with Zika should use condoms to protect their sex partners. Pregnant women should either use condoms the right way every time or not have sex during the pregnancy. Pregnant women should talk to their doctor about testing for Zika (see below).
If you feel sick and think you may have Zika:
- Talk to your doctor or nurse if you develop a fever with a rash, joint pain, or red eyes. Tell him or her about your travel.
- Take medicine, such as acetaminophen or paracetamol, to relieve fever and pain. Do not take aspirin, products containing aspirin, or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen.
- Get lots of rest and drink plenty of liquids.
- Prevent additional mosquito bites to avoid spreading the disease.
Zika virus can be spread from a pregnant woman to her fetus, and infection is linked to a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly and other poor pregnancy outcomes. CDC recommends special precautions for the following groups:
- Women who are pregnant:
- Should not travel to areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.
- If you must travel to one of these areas, talk to your doctor first, plan for travel, and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip.
- If your sex partner lives in or has traveled to an area with Zika, either use condoms or do not have sex (vaginal, anal, or oral) during pregnancy.
- Women who are trying to become pregnant:
- Men who have traveled to an area with Zika and have a pregnant partner should use condoms or not have sex (vaginal, anal, or oral) during the pregnancy.
Specific areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing are often difficult to determine and are likely to change over time. As more information becomes available, this travel notice will be updated. Please check back frequently for the most up-to-date recommendations.
Additional information is available at the following links:
- UNC Global Travel Regsitry, required for any and all UNC related travel: http://globaltravel.unc.edu
- CDC Travel Health Notices: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/
- CDC Zika virus website: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/index.html
- UNC Environment Health and Safety Zika Preparedness page: http://ehs.unc.edu/emergency/disease/zika/
- UNC Campus Health Zika Travel Advisory page: https://campushealth.unc.edu/news-events/features/zika-virus-information
- UNC Health Sciences Library Zika Virus Disease Resources: http://guides.lib.unc.edu/zika