Plan to Travel? Beware of the Zika Virus

The Public Health Agency of Canada has issued Travel Health Notices for some popular getaway destinations for winter weary Canadians, including South America, the Caribbean and Mexico. These notices relate to the Zika virus.

What is the Zika virus?

The Zika virus is spread through the bite of the Aedes mosquito. The usual virus symptoms, which last from 2-7 days, include mild fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis (pink eye), muscle/joint pain and headache. There is currently no vaccine or treatment available for the virus. For people who do become sick, it is advised to rest, drink fluids and treat pain with common medications.

Who’s at risk?

The Zika virus poses the greatest risk to women who are pregnant or who may be considering becoming pregnant. The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends having a discussion with a health care provider to assess the risk of travel to areas where the Zika virus has been found. If travel cannot be postponed, then strict mosquito bite prevention measures should be followed.

How to protect yourself from the Zika virus:

  • Use insect repellent
  • Wear light colours, long sleeves, long pants and a hat
  • Use mosquito nets
  • When inside use screens for windows and doors
  • Remove or empty containers with standing water

The World Health Organization and the Public Health Agency of Canada continue to monitor the Zika virus and provide updates as they become available.