Zika is a disease caused by Zika virus which is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. About 80 percent of those infected with Zika virus have no symptoms. 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. There is currently no vaccine or other preventative medication for Zika virus, other than avoiding the bite of an infected mosquito.
To date, there have been no cases of Zika virus originating in the continental United States, but there have been some cases among returning travelers.
For NC State students traveling abroad, the best way to prevent Zika and other mosquito-transmitted diseases such as dengue and Chikungunya is to prevent mosquito bites by using DEET containing insect repellents on skin and permethrin on clothing. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application of these products. Other measures such as using mosquito netting, wearing long sleeves and staying in places with air conditioning or window and door screens should be taken when possible.
Recently there have been several documented cases of Zika virus in infants born with microcephaly in Brazil. This has warranted the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to issue a travel alert to regions with Zika virus outbreaks, including parts of South America, Central America, the Caribbean, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Samoa, and Cape Verde. Women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant are advised to postpone travel to areas with Zika virus transmission.
Students traveling abroad should contact the NC State Student Health Travel Clinic for an appointment to discuss this and other risk reduction measures for international travel.
For more information, see the CDC website on Zika virus.
For travel notices related to Zika virus, see the CDC website on travel notices.