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Zika

Zika is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes that bite mostly during the daytime

16-04-19

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The zika virus is primarily transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes, which bite during the day. Less frequently, people can get infected through sexual contact, and a mother can transmit it to her child during pregnancy.

Mostly the symptoms are absent or mild, like an itchy rash. Sometimes fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, fatique and red eyes develop three to twelve days after infection.

Often the course of the disease is mild, but rarely neurological complications occur, like Guillain-Barré syndrome. A zika infection during pregnancy can cause a miscarriage or congenital defects, like microcephaly, sight or hearing disorders, growth delay, mental handicap or epilepsy.

There is no specific treatment. Someone who is infected with zika is probably protected for the rest of their life against a new infection.

Where does it occur?

Zika occurs in several countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Prevention

  • Protect yourself against mosquitoes, especially during the day.
  • Use condoms to protect yourself and your partner while staying in a region that harbours zika and for the first few months after returning, certainly if you or your partner wish to become pregnant.   
  • No vaccine is currently available.

Are your pregnant?

  • Do not travel to regions with an outbreak. Those are the regions coloured red on the CDC map.  
  • If you are thinking about travelling to a region that harbours zika, but where there is no current outbreak (purple regions on the map):
    • Discuss the risk first with your doctor.
    • If you do go, then protect yourself against mosquitoes during the day and use condoms.
    • After your return, you can take a test to check for zika infection.

Would you like to become pregnant?

  • Discuss the risk with your doctor if you are thinking about travelling to a region that harbours zika or where there is an outbreak (red and purple regions on the map). If you do go, then protect yourself against mosquitoes during the day.
  • Use condoms during the trip and:
    • For 3 months after your return.
    • Or until an infection can be excluded with a test.

Are you male and does your partner wish to become pregnant within three months of your return?

  • Protect yourself against mosquitoes during the day.
  • Use condoms during the trip and:
    • For 3 months after your return.
    • Or until an infection can be excluded with a test.

Blood testing

A blood test can ascertain whether you are infected with the zika virus. Testing is not necessary for people who are not or do not want to become pregnant within three months of their return.

When should you be tested?

  • As soon as possible if you have or had symptoms.
  • Three weeks after your return if you have not had any symptoms.

Symptoms?

Medical advice is required when there are symptoms. If fever develops, seek medical advice urgently to exclude serious infections like malaria. Do not take aspirin or ibuprofen, only treat fever with paracetamol. During the trip, call your travel insurance for advice about approved medical facilities.

After your return, you can consult your GP or a specialist clinic.

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