SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is offering travel recommendations to help those going to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil protect themselves from the Zika virus.
“Because Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects, IDPH wants to urge individuals visiting Brazil to protect themselves from mosquito bites,” said IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D. “This advice also applies to other destinations in the Americas that are currently experiencing and outbreak of Zika virus. While most people get Zika virus from a mosquito bite, the virus can also be sexually transmitted, so it is important to take precautions against both modes of transmission.”
Recommendations for travelers:
• All travelers to the Olympics should take precautions to protect themselves against mosquito bites. Use insect repellent on exposed skin that contain active ingredients such DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, IR3535, or para-methane-diol; wear long sleeves and long pants when possible; and stay in air conditioned or screened-in rooms.
• Pregnant women should not go to the Olympics. For those who must go, talk with a health care provider before going, strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites, and use a condom or do not have sex.
• Women who could become pregnant or are trying to become pregnant should talk with a health care provider about the risk of Zika virus infection, strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites, and use a condom or do not have sex.
• All travelers should either use a condom or do not have sex.
Zika virus can be spread through anal, oral, and vaginal sex. A man can pass Zika virus to his partner(s) even if he does not have symptoms at the time, or if his symptoms have gone away. While there is one documented case of Zika virus transmission from a woman to a man, more is still being learned. Condoms can reduce the chance of getting Zika virus from sex. All pregnant women with sex partners who live in or have traveled to an area with Zika virus should use condoms or not have sex during their pregnancy, even if their partners do not have Zika virus symptoms or if their symptoms have gone away. People who live in or have traveled to an area with Zika virus should consider using condoms to protect their sex partners.
CDC has guidance for how long to wait before trying to get pregnant or have sex without a condom.
When returning home, watch for symptoms of Zika virus and call your health care provider if you suspect you may be infected.
For more information, check out the Zika Virus Information Center on the IDPH website.