Wednesday, March 16, 2016 - 1:35pm
Tips from Public Health to Reduce Risk of Illness Abroad
As you’re packing for your spring getaway to a warmer location, be aware of the following information to help ensure that you stay healthy while at your destination, and once you return home.
News about the Zika virus has underscored the need to be well prepared for travel to areas where the virus is present which include many popular spring break destinations throughout the Caribbean, Central America, South America, Pacific Islands, and Mexico. The disease is primarily spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes in these areas can also transmit other diseases such as Dengue and Chikungunya.
To help prevent such illnesses, be sure to pack plenty of EPA-registered insect repellents, along with long-sleeved shirts and pants. Also be sure to pack condoms to prevent sexually transmitted infections, including the Zika virus, as it can be spread through sexual contact.
The CDC has issued Zika travel notices with more detailed recommendations for travelers to specific destinations.
In most cases the Zika virus has no symptoms or causes a mild illness, but because the Zika virus has been linked to serious birth defects, the CDC has issued a special travel advisory for pregnant women considering traveling to areas experiencing outbreaks. It is strongly recommended that pregnant women not travel to an area with Zika. Pregnant women who must travel to one of these areas should talk to their doctor and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during the trip including using mosquito repellant and wearing long sleeves and pants. Pregnant women with partners who have traveled to an area with Zika virus should use condoms during sex.
We also urge travelers to be careful with local cuisine. In developing countries, eat only food that has been fully cooked and served hot. Do not eat fresh vegetables and fruits unless you can peel them yourself. Never drink the tap water and don´t use it to brush your teeth. Drink only bottled, sealed beverages, and steer clear of ice—which is often made with tap water. The CDC has an app “Can I Eat This?” - which offers important advice on making safe food and drink choices when you travel.
Even if you don’t get sick when you’re traveling, it’s important to seek care if you don’t feel well after you return from your trip. Be sure to mention to your doctor that you have recently traveled.
For more detailed information on staying safe and healthy when you travel, see the CDC´s travel web pages.
- Jeff Golden, (608) 243-0302, firstname.lastname@example.org