The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
issued a travel alert for Mexico, Central America, South America and the
Caribbean as a result of an outbreak of the mosquito-borne Zika virus. The
warning comes two weeks before the main Carnival festivities begin in Brazil
and seven months before the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Health officials
in Hawaii confirmed the first known instance of a Zika virus infection within
the U.S. Since then, cases have been confirmed in Florida, Illinois and Texas.
Twenty-one countries in the Americas have
reported cases of the virus since Brazil reported the first cases of local
transmission in May 2015. The virus is likely to spread to all but two
countries in the Americas where Zika is not present, Canada and Chile.
other tropical regions are vulnerable to Zika, dengue and other mosquito-borne
viruses because of the dense population and ineffective mosquito control
Until now the virus has never before been detected
in the Americas – it has only been identified in Africa, Asia and, most
recently, the Pacific islands and Cape Verde. While the U.S. is considered vulnerable, many experts say Zika is
unlikely to spread far outside tropical zones. Countries in Latin America and
the Caribbean remain most vulnerable. Symptoms
can include fever, rash, and headache.
Due to its mild symptoms, the Zika Virus often goes undiagnosed and
people infected may not seek medical care. There is a particular concern for
pregnant women as the virus can be spread to an unborn baby and has been linked
to birth defects such as microcephaly, which
can cause abnormally small heads and serious, sometimes deadly, developmental
Given the fact that the virus is likely to spread across
North and South America, if you are planning to travel to any region for
business, or a spring getaway to Brazil’s Carnival or the upcoming Olympics, here
is some guidance on how to protect yourself from the disease:
who are pregnant should consider postponing travel to any area where Zika virus
transmission is ongoing.
precautions by using insect repellents, covering exposed skin and keeping
windows and doors closed.
to your doctor or nurse if you develop a fever with rash, joint pain or red
eyes. Tell your doctor about any recent travel.
medicine, such as acetaminophen or paracetamol, to relieve fever and pain. Do
not take aspirin, products containing aspirin, or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory
drugs such as ibuprofen.
plenty of rest and drink plenty of liquids.
Learn more about other recent epidemics such as the measles outbreak in the U.S. and keeping Ebola risk in perspective.
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"Breaking News," for more updates, or contact a Risk Services advisor to
help your business prepare for almost any type of public health crisis.