February 2017-With spring break right around the corner, students and community members are reminded to take precautions against the spread of the Zika virus while traveling. Read the Virginia Tech News notice to learn more.
Virginia Tech's Office of Emergency Management and Schiffert Health Center, along with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) are closely monitoring the current Zika virus disease (Zika) situation in the U.S. and abroad.
All Virginia Tech community members are encouraged to take precautions against the spread of Zika prior to travel to areas in the Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South America where Zika transmission is ongoing.
There is a Center for Disease Control (CDC) Level 2 travel warning for Cape Verde, the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, the Pacific Islands, and South America. Travelers are encouraged to check the CDC Travelers’ Health site to see if Zika is impacting their destination area.
On this page:
- What is Zika?
- What is the risk to the Virginia Tech community?
- Travel recommendations
- More resources
Zika virus disease (Zika) is a viral disease spread to people through bites of infected mosquitoes. Mosquitoes become infected by feeding on infected persons. Zika is transmitted primarily by Aedes aegypti (Yellow fever mosquito). Aedes albopictus (Asian tiger mosquito) can also spread the virus. Both of these mosquitoes can also transmit dengue and chikungunya viruses.
Outbreaks of Zika have occurred in Africa, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, Central America, South America, the Caribbean, and Mexico. Because the mosquitoes that spread the virus are found around the world, it is likely that outbreaks will spread to new countries.
According to VDH, while Zika is not currently circulating in the continental United States, cases have been reported in returning travelers.
Before travel, check the CDC Travelers’ Health site to see if Zika is impacting the destination area. This is especially important for pregnant women (in any trimester) or women who are trying to become pregnant. They are advised to consider postponing travel to any area where Zika is spreading.
During travel, all travelers, particularly pregnant women, should take steps to avoid mosquito bites. These include taking the following actions:
- Choose an EPA-registered insect repellant, and use according to the product label. Use the repellent day and night. The mosquito species that transmit Zika are daytime biters, but they will also enter buildings at night.
- Use permethrin-treated clothing.
- Cover exposed skin by wearing long sleeves, long pants, and hats.
- Sleep indoors in rooms with screened windows or air-conditioning, or use a bed net if you sleep in a room that is exposed to the outdoors.
After travel, if you develop signs or symptoms consistent with Zika (e.g. fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes), seek immediate medical attention. If a healthcare provider suspects Zika infection, he or she should report this to the local health department.
- If you have fever or pain, take medicine such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) to relieve your symptoms. Do not take aspirin or other non-steroidal inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen.
- Get lots of rest and drink plenty of liquids.
- People with Zika should also stay indoors or wear protective clothing and mosquito repellent for the first week after they begin to feel sick. These measures will help prevent local mosquitoes from biting them and potentially spreading the virus to others in the community.
- Pregnant women who have a male partner who lives in or has returned from an area where Zika is spreading should abstain from sex or use condoms consistently and correctly for the duration of the pregnancy.
Last updated: February 28, 2017