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Zika: FlightHub’s Travel Facts About The Virus

In recent months the World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a state of emergency for the mosquito-transmitted virus of Zika. In the spirit of promoting factual information for our fellow travelers, FlightHub reviews the WHO’s recommendations and travel advisories, and makes sure that you’re making informed decisions and staying safe while abroad.

First things first, what is Zika? According to the WHO’s official website, Zika is a disease that is  transmitted through mosquitos, specifically by Aedes mosquitos. These mosquitos were original found in  tropical and subtropical areas, but have since spread to almost every continent except for the Antarctic. When bitten by an infected mosquito, those who become ill show signs of mild fever, a skin rash and a symptom known as conjunctivitis, otherwise known as pink eye. The symptoms typically last between 2 and 7 days, and at present date there is no known vaccine.

Though the incubation period is unknown (or rather, undetermined), people who have been infected by the virus can carry the disease with them for a period of time after their symptoms have gone away. Within the past year (2015), Brazil has faced one of the largest outbreaks known to date, and the outcomes of transmitting the virus has severely affected pregnant women. Women who were bitten and infected with the disease during their pregnancy pose the risk of the fetus developing microcephaly.

Microcephaly, simple put, is the stunting of a fetus’s head during gestation or shortly after birth. When the head fails to grow, the brain cannot properly develop, leaving infants and children with cognitive delays and neurological problems. These problems include impaired motor functions, speech delays and learning disabilities.

In addition to mosquito bites, the virus has since become sexually transmitted, meaning that carriers can infect others while having unprotected sexual contact.

With all these health risks involved, FlightHub recommends the following in order to protect yourself from the virus:

Avoid traveling in areas where the virus is known. This strategy is a short-term solution for a large-scale problem, but is nonetheless the simplest way to keeping yourself healthy and virus free. This is especially true if you’re pregnant.

Dress in layers. Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants, and appropriate insect repellent when  walking outside. In addition to clothing, stay in areas where there are fitted mesh screens on windows and doors.

Practice safe sex. Since the virus is now transmittable through intercourse, practice safe sex if you’ve been in areas where the disease is present.

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