Summer is coming and traveling to the South, or tropical areas can put your family’s and your health at risk. But following certain recommendations can protect you and your loved ones from the Zika virus and other diseases transmitted by mosquitoes.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has tagged Zika as an international public health emergency. The Zika virus can be transmitted primarily by an infected mosquito from tropical regions. The virus can also be transmitted through sexual activities, but only men can carry it.
The U.S. have reported 691 Zika cases, but the virus has not been transmitted by mosquito bites. People that got infected had traveled to other countries like Africa, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands and Brazil, or had sexual relations with a person already infected with the virus.
According to the WHO, the time between exposure to showing symptoms is not clear yet, but it takes a few days. The symptoms include fever, skin rashes, muscle and joint pain, malaise, conjunctivitis, and headache. These symptoms can last for to 2 to 7 days, but they are usually mild.
The highest risk goes to developing babies because if the mother is infected with Zika, the fetus can suffer birth defects. The most common malformation is microcephaly, which means the baby will have a small brain and thus, a small head. Unborn babies from infected mothers can also have the Guillain-Barré syndrome, which makes the child’s immune system to attack part of their peripheral nervous system.
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How to avoid Zika during your summer break: insect repellent and mosquito nets
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says on its website that there is no vaccine to prevent the Zika virus, but there are ways to avoid it. First of all, mosquitoes that spread the virus bite mostly during daytime, thus long-sleeved shirts and long pants are recommended to avoid mosquito bites.
Another recommendation for travelers is to use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered insect repellents. The following ingredients are approved by the EPA: para-menthane-diol, oil of lemon eucalyptus, picaridin, IR3535 and DEET and they are safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women when used as directed.
To get better results, do not use insect repellent on the skin under clothing, use it over the clothes you and your family will be wearing.
Be careful. For babies younger than two months old the repellent is not recommended and lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol ingredients for children younger than three years old are risky.
If you are a traveling overseas use a mosquito net to sleep and if an air conditioner is available, use it. Windows and doors should be protected by screens to avoid mosquitoes.
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Regarding sexual transmission, the use of a condom in recommendable. The good news is that the chances to contract Zika in the U.S are slight, and if you follow the previous recommendations, the Zika virus will not spoil your vacations.
Zika and the Summer Olympics
Due to the Zika phenomenon, there have been calls to postponed the Olympics Games and even to moved them to another country because the virus is prevalent in this South American country.
The spread of the virus is unavoidable, according to some scientists, and the fact that around 500 thousand sports fans will fly to Rio for the Games increases the possibilities of a worldwide spread. The athletes, their families, and sports fans are potentially becoming infected, and when returning to their countries local Aedes mosquitoes can get infected and the spread the Zika virus. And then sexually transmitted cases will have to be counted among the Zika affected.
HPHR says another reason to move or postponed the Olympics is that the Olympic Committee declares the games seek to create social responsibility and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles. With the Zika threat in Brazil and no cures to the virus, if the Olympic Games are held in this country an act of health irresponsibility will be committed because the people that travel to Brazil choose to take the risk, but the citizens in their hometowns are not. And because is a disease hard to control, the spread of the virus will be a fact.
To moved the Olympics Game could be possible. In 1976 Winter Olympics were run and in 1994, Winter Olympics changed its schedule.
Moreover, America’s baseball leagues were going to be celebrated in Puerto Rico, but the leagues were rescheduled and moved because of Zika. Any changes will cost money, but to prevent Zika cases sounds priceless.
Source: Deseret News