The tiny Dutch island in the West Indies, St. Eustatius, has recently reported local Zika virus transmission, which has prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to issue a travel notice for the Caribbean island.
Local mosquito transmission means that mosquitoes in the area are infected with Zika virus and are spreading it to people.
Because Zika virus is primarily spread by mosquitoes, CDC recommends that travelers to Sint Eustatius protect themselves from mosquito bites.
Travelers to areas with cases of Zika virus infection are at risk of being infected with the Zika virus. Mosquitoes that spread Zika are aggressive daytime biters. They also bite at night. There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika virus.
Some travelers to areas with Zika will become infected while traveling but will not become sick until they return home and they might not have any symptoms. To help stop the spread of Zika, travelers should use insect repellent for three weeks after travel to prevent mosquito bites.
Some people who are infected do not have any symptoms. People who do have symptoms have reported fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes. The sickness is usually mild with symptoms that last from several days to a week. Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon and the number of deaths is low.
A pregnant woman can pass Zika virus to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects. CDC recommends special precautions for the following groups:
- Women who are pregnant:
- Should not travel to Sint Eustatius.
- If you must travel, talk to your doctor first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip.
- If you have a male partner who lives in or has traveled to Sint Eustatius, either use condoms or do not have sex (vaginal, anal, or oral) during your pregnancy.