Should you avoid summer travel because of Zika virus?

Saturday, May 14, 2016
Threat of Zika virus while traveling
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The Zika virus can be transmitted to the fetus

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (WTVD) -- With the summer travel season nearly upon us, some people might have concerns about the Zika virus while traveling abroad. So, is it safe? We asked a doctor with Duke Primary Care that very question.

According to Michele Casey, MD with Duke Primary Care in Wake Forest, when it comes to the Zika virus and the effects it can have on unborn babies, there is certainly cause for concern.

"The concern is that the Zika virus can be transmitted to the fetus, and if it is transmitted to the baby then it can cause microcephaly, which is a small brain. So, poor brain development," she explained.

As a result, pregnant women are urged to avoid areas with high rates of the Zika virus. While the virus is primarily spread through mosquitoes, it can be sexually transmitted. So, both women and men are urged to wait to try to conceive if they've visited an affected area recently.

"For women, it's about eight weeks and for men, if they think they've been exposed or had it, to wait at least six months before trying," she shared.

This doesn't mean it's not safe to travel. Dr. Casey says just take precautions, especially if you're going south of the United States.

"You can protect your skin by wearing long sleeves and long pants, or you can use DEET or any kind of insect repellent that's been proven to work."

The good news is that for most people, the effects of the Zika virus are very mild, only last about a week, and require little to no treatment. And, if you have traveled abroad and are concerned you've contracted the illness, you can be tested.

So far there has been one confirmed case of Zika in Wake County. But it's believed that person traveled outside the United States. There is no evidence that mosquitoes are spreading Zika virus here right now.

For more on the topic, click here.

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