March 9, 2016
The Centers for Disease Control continues to caution travelers to areas in the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, and South America about the threat of contracting the Zika Virus, which is carried by mosquitoes. While there is no evidence of local transmission of the virus by Texas mosquitoes now, the Texas Department of State Health Services is cautioning residents and offering prevention tips in anticipation of increased mosquito activity and the potential for local mosquito transmission.
If you’re traveling to the locations highlighted by the CDC or to the south and southeast parts of Texas, please take precautions against the Zika Virus.
Precautions to prevent mosquito bites include:
- Wearing long-sleeve shirts and long pants
- Using DEET or another EPA-registered insecticide that repels mosquitoes
- Using permethrin on one’s clothing
- Avoiding unnecessary travel to areas where the virus is prevalent and staying indoors if you do
The Texas Department of State Health Service also recommends taking action around homes by:
- Emptying containers and clearing gutters of standing water
- Changing water in pet dishes daily and in birdbaths several times a week
- Covering trash containers
- Treating front and back door areas with residual insecticides
- Putting screens on rain barrels and water tanks
The Zika Virus has the potential to spread when a mosquito bites an infected person then bites a person who is not infected. There is a possibility that Zika may also be transmitted through sexual contact. Until more is known about the sexual transmission of the virus, those returning from Zika-affected areas are encouraged to use condoms for all sexual contact. About one in five people infected with the virus become ill.
Symptoms are generally mild and resolve within a week, and may include:
- Joint pain
- Conjunctivitis (red eyes)
Because these symptoms can be similar to those of chikungunya or dengue fever, if you’re experiencing these symptoms, you are advised not to take aspirin or NSAID pain relievers, which can aggravate dengue, and to seek immediate medical attention.
The Zika Virus can potentially harm unborn children, so pregnant women are asked to take special precautions and potentially reschedule plans to travel to areas where the virus is prevalent.
The university has not placed any restrictions on travel to the areas where the Zika Virus is prevalent but will continue to monitor the spread of the virus for the safety of the UNT community.
Find more information online at the Centers for Disease Control Zika Virus site, http://www.cdc.gov/zika/, or at the Texas Department of State Health Services Zika Virus site, http://www.texaszika.org/index.htm.