Special Communication RE: ZIKA VIRUS
Zika is an emerging infectious disease that is transmitted to people through mosquito bites. An increasing number of travelers are being diagnosed with the disease after they return home.
The first human cases were identified over 50 years ago, and sporadic cases have been reported in a number of countries since. The first large outbreak was documented in Yap, Micronesia, in 2007. Following an outbreak in French Polynesia in 2013-2014, the disease is spreading through a number of Pacific Islands and now rapidly through the Americas.
In parallel with these outbreaks, authorities in some locations have noted an increase in birth defects (such as microcephaly) and neurological complications (including Guillain–Barré syndrome). There is growing evidence that Zika may be responsible, and a number of health authorities are advising pregnant women to consider delaying travel to affected areas, and for those living there to consider delaying pregnancy until the outbreaks are contained.
What is the Zika virus? What are the symptoms?
[if !supportLists]· [endif]Zika virus (ZIKV) belongs to a group of viruses called flaviviruses. The group also includes dengue and West Nile virus. Zika is present in tropical areas of Central America, the Caribbean, South America, Africa, Southeast Asia and some Pacific Islands.
[if !supportLists]· [endif]Like dengue, people are infected through mosquito bites. Only one in five develop symptoms. Usually the illness is mild, with symptoms of fever, rash, red eyes (conjunctivitis), joint pain, rash and muscle and joint pains.
[if !supportLists]· [endif]Most people recover in a week, and no specific treatment is available.
[if !supportLists]· [endif]There is growing evidence that the virus might be linked to neurological complications and birth defects.
How can it be prevented?
[if !supportLists]· [endif]There is no vaccine to prevent Zika, so it is important to prevent mosquito bites. Due to the potential risk of birth defects, this is especially important for pregnant women.
• Some authorities, including the US CDC, are advising pregnant women (in any trimester) or those who plan to become pregnant to consider postponing travel to any area where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.
[if !supportLists]· [endif]Travelers, predominately pregnant women, to tropical areas of the Americas, Africa, Southeast Asia and Pacific Islands.
[if !supportLists]· [endif]For updates and the latest information on the Zika virus, visit https://www.internationalsos.com/topics/zika-virus
[if !supportLists]· [endif]Sign up for travel alerts on the MedAire portal, visit http://www.medaire.com/portal/Login.aspx
[if !supportLists]· [endif]Members are encouraged to contact MedAire for advice before, during or after travel to any of the affected countries.
[if !supportLists]· [endif]Download the MedAire Sea to Shore app for iPad. This will provide you at-a-glance information on medical and travel risk ratings. MedAire members will be alerted to any medical events that may affect their safety or travel itinerary.
[if !supportLists]· [endif]Carry your MedAire Membership card with you at all times and program the phone number in your mobile. If you’re not a MedAire Member, please contact us for additional information on how we may assist you with medical and travel safety services.
Lisa Haley | Head of Yachting, The Americas & Caribbean
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