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Travel Health Advisory for Zika Virus

January 26, 2016
Updated April 6, 2016

Dear MSU Travelers,
The CDC has issued a travel alert (Level 2-Practice Enhanced Precautions) for people traveling to regions and certain countries where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Travel notices are designed to inform travelers and clinicians about current health issues related to specific destinations. 

Travel to these areas may continue, however, the CDC “recommends special precautions for pregnant women. Women who are pregnant should not travel to areas with Zika. If you must travel to one of these areas, talk to your healthcare provider first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip.”

All travelers should take extra care to avoid mosquito bites. It is possible that Zika virus may be sexually transmitted therefore travelers should also follow CDC advice in this regard. 

Zika is a disease caused by Zika virus that is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika.

Specific areas with ongoing Zika virus transmission is ongoing are often difficult to determine and are likely to change over time. If traveling, please visit the CDC Travelers' Health site for the most updated travel information.

More information may be found below and at the CDC's Zika website.

Mosquito Bite Prevention

Travelers can protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites:

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
  • Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are overseas or outside and are not able to protect yourself from mosquito bites.
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breast-feeding women.
  • Always follow the product label instructions
  • Reapply insect repellent as directed.
  • Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.
  • If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent.

Products containing the following active ingredients typically provide reasonably long-lasting protection:

  • DEET - Products containing DEET include, but are not limited to, Off!, Cutter, Sawyer, and Ultrathon.
  • Picaridin - Products containing Picaridin include, but are not limited to, Cutter Advanced, Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus, and Autan (outside the United States).
  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or PMD - Products containing OLE and PMD include, but are not limited to, Repel and Off! Botanicals. This recommendation refers to EPA-registered repellent products containing the active ingredient OLE (or PMD). “Pure” oil of lemon eucalyptus (essential oil not formulated as a repellent) is not recommended; it has not undergone similar, validated testing for safety and efficacy, is not registered with EPA as an insect repellent, and is not covered by this recommendation.
  • IR3535 - Products containing IR3535 include, but are not limited to, Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Expedition and SkinSmart.
  • Treat clothing and gear with Permethrin or purchase Permethrin-treated items.
  • Treated clothing remains protective after multiple washings. See product information to learn how long the protection will last.
  • If treating items yourself, follow the product instructions carefully.
  • Do NOT use Permethrin products directly on skin. They are intended to treat clothing.

For more information see the CDC's Zika prevention page.

Zika and Sexual Transmission

Zika virus can be spread during sex by a man infected with Zika to his partners. Couples with a male partner who lives in or traveled to an area with Zika that are concerned about sexual transmission of Zika should consider using a condom every time they have sex. To be effective, condoms must be used correctly.

For more information see the CDC's page on Zika and sexual transmission.

Zika and Pregnancy

Until we know more, CDC recommends special precautions for pregnant women. Women who are pregnant should not travel to any area where Zika virus is spreading. If you must travel to one of these areas, talk to your healthcare provider first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip.

For more information see the CDC's page on Zika and pregnancy.

Please direct any further questions to your primary care physician or the MSU Travel Clinic.