Zika Virus Concerns?

Zika is making headlines and raising concerns about travel safety.  World Servants wants to assure our participants that we are aware of this situation.  The virus has been found in the Caribbean, Central America and Mexico including communities where World Servants’ serves:  Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Ecuador and Mexico.

The virus is primarily transmitted by mosquito bites, but can also be spread through blood transfusions and sexual contact.  About 1 in 5 people infected with Zika will become ill.  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 and treated with acetaminophen to reduce fever and pain along with rest and fluids. People usually don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital, and Zika is very rarely fatal. 

Contracting the Zika virus is highly unlikely.  There is no vaccine, prophylaxis, or medicine to treat the virus, but there are ways to prevent infection.  World Servants suggests mission trip participants:

  • Bring and use mosquito repellent during the day and at night to keep mosquitoes from biting 
  • Wear long sleeves and long pants to help protect from bites
  • Treat clothing and gear (boots, socks, with permethrin (don’t apply directly on skin) or purchase permethrin-treated items, which remain protective even after several washings
  • Sleep under a mosquito bed net and keep windows closed if they are not screened

The Centers of Disease Control (CDC) recommends travel precautions for women who are pregnant, as well as women who are trying to become pregnant.  The Zika virus can be spread from a pregnant woman to her fetus; such as microcephaly, a serious birth defect of the brain.

We will continue to monitor the situation.  If you have any concerns or questions, please call the World Servants office at 800-881-2170.  For more in-depth information on the Zika virus please see the CDC website at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-information.