I know you’ve heard about Zika, but did you know…?

Emily McGrath, Pharmacy blogger

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Going on a trip soon?

Out of the country?

Possibly to South America, Africa, Mexico, the Caribbean, or a South Pacific Island?

Here’s what you should know before going to places such as these.

A viral outbreak, the Zika Virus, has been noted in these places, stemming from a called Aedes aegypti. The first cases of this virus have been reported from Brazil in May 2015, with a possible 1.5 million individuals infected. The virus may be transmitted sexually, from mother to infant during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Only 20-25 percent of infected individuals develop symptoms of this virus—we need to be careful.

Common signs of this virus include: sudden onset of a fever associated with either a small red bumps on the skin, joint weakness or pain, swelling noticed in the arms or legs, or inflammation and redness seen in the eye. If these symptoms are present with you or with someone you know, ask if the person has been out of the country within the past two weeks to any of the places mentioned above. This virus normally does not make patients sick enough to require hospitalization, yet the symptoms can be very uncomfortable and undesired. The symptoms of this virus last for several days or even up to one week after the exposure to the bite from an infected mosquito.

Many patients do not die from this viral infection, although pregnant patients must take precaution because of the potential risks of serious birth defects to the child.

Unfortunately, since this virus has only recently been noted in these locations, a vaccine to prevent or treat this virus has not yet been made available. No specific treatment options are available at this time either, but rest, hydration, pain and fever control are recommended options after exposure to this virus. The primary means of controlling this virus from spreading is prevention of original exposure.

Tips to protect yourself while on vacation or visiting an out of the country resort in locations mentioned above include mosquito avoidance by using bug spray containing DEET. By looking at the active ingredients on the product, one can see whether or not the product contains DEET.

According to the CDC, common products found in stores that will be beneficial in aiding against mosquito bites are Off!, Cutter, Sawyer, Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus and Repel. Bug repellant should be avoided in infants younger than two months of age. Repellant should be applied to both clothing and gear brought on the trip. Pregnant individuals should use extreme caution in visiting these areas of the world because this virus can severely harm your child.

The CDC recommends the special precautions that pregnant women should delay travel to areas with Zika Virus. Women who plan to become pregnant within two years should also use precaution, as the virus can remain dormant within the immune system for a period of time.

For other ways of prevention, individuals can choose a hotel or lodging that comes with air conditioning or screens on the windows and doors to keep the mosquitoes away. Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when possible. Apply sunscreen first before applying the insect repellant, and make sure to follow the product label instructions found on the back of the product you choose.

Before traveling, it is suggested that all individuals should read about prevention of a mosquito bite from the Center for Disease Control website. For further recommendations, ask your physician or local pharmacist about products that may be right for you.

All information above was gathered from Dynamed and CDC.gov.

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