In recent years, the Zika virus has flared up in lots of equatorial countries around the world. Adding yet another mosquito-borne disease for travellers to worry about.
Fetal Brain Damage
If a woman or man has Zika in their system and the couple conceives, the virus could cause a miscarriage, stillbirth or microcephaly. Microcephaly is a rare and serious birth defect that stunts the development of a fetus’s brain, resulting in limited brain capacity and an abnormally small head.
Zika is transmitted via mosquito bites, or sexual intercourse. The virus can live in your system for months. In women, about 2 months. In men, 3 – 6 months.
So if you are pregnant, planning a honeymoon or babymoon, or plan to get pregnant in the next 6 – 9 months, you should NOT travel to a Zika-risk country. This applies to women and men.
If you are sexually-active and plan to visit a Zika-risk country, you should protect yourself from mosquitoes during your trip.
Many people infected with Zika won’t have any symptoms. So you could be carrying the virus and be none the wiser. Thus, you should abstain from sex, or use condoms religiously, both during and after your trip for at least 3 months — to prevent a Zika-risk pregnancy.
In rare cases, Zika could cause Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), a nervous system disorder in which your immune system attacks and damages your nerve cells, causing muscle weakness in the arms and legs; breathing difficulties; and, sometimes, paralysis.
Symptoms can last weeks to months. Most people fully recover from GBS. Some experience permanent damage. Very few die from it.
Determine if there is a Zika risk in the country you plan to visit, by checking out our BYG (Before You Go) Country Guides.
Because there isn’t yet a vaccine for Zika, you should take these 3 preventative measures to protect your skin from infected mosquitoes during your trip.
Some Zika-infected persons may experience these flu-like symptoms for about a week: fever, rash, joint pain, muscle pain, red eyes and headaches.