For many Michigan residents, the winter months often include travel to warmer climates. To date, Michigan has confirmed 69 cases of Zika virus disease in travelers, including three pregnant women. All of the Zika cases in Michigan are travel related.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is urging travelers to protect themselves from Zika virus while traveling to places with active Zika transmission.
While the virus is primarily transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito, it’s important that residents of reproductive age are aware of the risks associated with sexual transmission of Zika virus. Zika can be spread through sex without a condom. Most cases of sexual transmission have involved people who had symptoms of Zika virus infection. However, recent evidence suggests that asymptomatic males may be capable of transmitting Zika virus to their sex partners.
Zika virus illness is typically mild. The most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes) lasting for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Zika has also been linked to Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), an uncommon condition of the nervous system following infections.
Well before you travel, find out if Zika virus is a risk at your planned destination. Pregnant women and couples who are planning to conceive in the near future should avoid nonessential travel to areas with active Zika virus transmission because infection during pregnancy is linked to serious birth defects and miscarriage. Travelers can prevent Zika virus infection by taking precautions to avoid mosquito bites.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Stay and sleep in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens.
- If your plans include travel to more remote areas, take along a permethrin-treated bed net to use while sleeping.
- Use EPA-registered insect repellents with one of the following active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus or paramenthane-diol, or 2-undecanone.
So what are your prescriptions Dr Nandi?
Partha’s Prescriptions:1. Pregnant women should not travel to areas with active Zika transmission. If they must travel, they should take precautions to prevent mosquito bites.
2. For non-pregnant women who travel to areas with active Zika transmission, it is recommended they prevent pregnancy for at least eight weeks from symptom onset (if ill) or last possible exposure (if illness does not develop).
3. For men who return from travel, it is recommended they use condoms and avoid conception for at least six months - regardless of whether they develop an illness consistent with Zika virus disease.
4. Men who have been in an area with active Zika virus transmission and have a pregnant partner should either use condoms the right way every time they have sex, or not have sex for the duration of the pregnancy.