The Center for disease Control and Prevention held a Thursday afternoon conference call to discuss the best methods to avoid the Zika virus for college students going on spring break.
The speakers, Vice Admiral Vivek H. Murthy, MD, and Admiral Anne Schuchat, MD, Principal Deputy Director for CDC discussed the steps to prevent getting infected.
March is the month of spring break for many colleges and universities around the United States, which allows students to travel to warm weather locations. However, these locations that are popular are also destinations where the Zika virus is present, including Mexico and the Caribbean.
In the past several months there has been recent cases of many people being exposed to the Zika Virus.
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 after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
According to CDC’s website, “Zika virus disease (Zika) is a disease caused by Zika virus that is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito.”
Schuchat, spoke passionately about pregnant women needing to be far away from the virus.
“The bottom line is still that pregnant women should postpone travel where Zika is traveling,” she said.
According to CDC, the government is using a drug that will help develop a vaccine, but it may take a couple of years.
Murthy said when people hear that there is no cure they get really worried.
“Everyone should know that the government is focusing on a prevention kit, and most people who get Zika end up being ok,” he said. “80 percent of people who are affected with Zika don’t have symptoms or have very mild symptoms. The primary population that we are most concerned about are women.”
It is very important for travelers to use preventative methods to avoid this virus. The CDC encourages travelers to use mosquito repellent when they are on the beach.
If they are not on the beach then they should wear long sleeves and long pants especially if the area is not air-conditioned.
College students who go to other countries and engage in sexual intercourse without the use of contraceptives need to use preventative methods and see a doctor for up to three weeks after they leave an area even if they do not feel sick.
“Zika is spread primarily through mosquito bites, but the Zika virus can be spread through men easily in their semen through sexual transmission,” Schuachat said.
“Before closing, it is important that all college students understand it is necessary to not come back as another statistic. Use condoms at all times. Also remember do not text and drive, if you are going to drink alcohol do not drive,” Murthy said.
People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and they very rarely die of Zika. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected. Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections.