As the Zika virus reaches Miami, Florida, travelers from Wyoming, especially pregnant women or those who may become pregnant, are urged to pay attention to Zika-related travel warnings, according to the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH).
“Zika can be passed to babies during pregnancy and has strong links to a serious, brain-related birth defect known as microcephaly,” said Dr. Tracy Murphy, state epidemiologist with WDH. Zika virus is spread to people mostly through bites of certain types of mosquitos.
Murphy said he would not be surprised for local transmission in United States to expand beyond the initially confirmed area in Miami, Florida but does not expect it to spread to Wyoming. “Folks need to stay informed when planning travel both within the United States and to other areas affected by Zika virus, but the mosquitoes that spread the disease do not make their homes in Wyoming,” he said.
Recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) include:
• Pregnant women should not travel to the newly identified area in Florida or other Zika-affected locations.
• Sexual partners of pregnant women who live in or who have traveled to an affected area should consistently and correctly use condoms or other barriers against infection during sex or abstain from sex during the pregnancy.
• All pregnant women who live in or travel to an area with active Zika virus transmission, or who have sex with a partner who lives in or traveled to an area with active Zika virus transmission without using condoms or other barrier methods to prevent infection should be assessed for possible Zika virus exposure during each prenatal care visit and tested according to CDC guidance.
• Women and men who traveled to this area should wait at least 8 weeks before trying for a pregnancy; men with Zika symptoms should wait at least 6 months.
• Anyone with possible exposure to Zika virus and symptoms of Zika should be tested.
“We want women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant to check whether their travel destination is affected by Zika virus and if it is they should consider postponing their plans. Their partners also need to know the risks,” Murphy said.
The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes. The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week.
“While Wyoming’s mosquitoes are not known to transmit Zika, we know state residents travel to areas with transmission and we want them to protect themselves,” Murphy said. To date, Zika virus has not been confirmed in any Wyoming resident.
More information and frequently updated CDC travel warnings can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/zika/index.html.