CDC issues zika travel alert for St Barts

Following reports that local mosquito transmission of zika virus infection has been reported in Saint Barthelemy (St Barts), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday posted a zika virus travel notice for the island.
Local mosquito transmission means that mosquitoes in the area are infected with zika virus and are spreading it to people.

Because the zika virus is primarily spread by mosquitoes, CDC recommends that travelers to Saint Barts protect themselves from mosquito bites.

Mosquitoes that spread zika are aggressive daytime biters. They also bite at night. There is no vaccine or medicine for zika virus. The best way to avoid zika virus infection is to prevent mosquito bites.

Some travelers to areas with zika will become infected while traveling but will not become sick until they return home and they might not have any symptoms. To help stop the spread of zika, travelers should use insect repellent for three weeks after travel to prevent mosquito bites.

Some people who are infected do not have any symptoms. People who do have symptoms have reported fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes. The sickness is usually mild with symptoms that last from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon and the number of deaths is low. Travelers to areas with zika should monitor for symptoms or sickness upon return. If they become sick, they should tell their healthcare professional when and where they have traveled.

CDC has received reports of zika virus being spread by sexual contact with sick returning travelers. A pregnant woman can pass Zika virus to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects.

CDC recommends special precautions for the following groups:

•Women who are pregnant:

◦ Should not travel to Saint Barts.

◦ If you must travel, talk to your doctor first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip.

◦ If you have a male partner who lives in or has traveled to Saint Barts, either use condoms or do not have sex (vaginal, anal, or oral) during your pregnancy.

• Women who are trying to become pregnant:

◦ Before you or your male partner travel, talk to your doctor about your plans to become pregnant and the risk of zika virus infection.

◦ You and your male partner should strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites.

• 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.

Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is very likely triggered by zika in a small proportion of infections, much as it is after a variety of other infections. CDC is working with Brazil to study the possibility of a link between Zika and GBS.

Women who have traveled to an area with zika but don’t have symptoms should wait eight weeks after travel before trying to get pregnant. Women who also have zika symptoms should wait at least eight weeks after symptoms start before trying to get pregnant.

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