In response to recent local transmission of Zika virus on the Cayman Islands in the western Caribbean Sea, US health officials issued a travel notice for travelers to the tourist destination.
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 Cayman Islands protect themselves from mosquito bites. Mosquitoes that spread Zika are aggressive daytime biters. They also bite at night.
See the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) web page on preventing bug bites for more info.
In addition, sexual transmission of Zika virus is also possible, so travelers are encouraged to use condoms (or other barriers to prevent infection) or not have sex.
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. Travelers to areas with Zika should monitor for symptoms or sickness upon return.
A pregnant woman can pass Zika virus to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects. CDC recommends special precautions for women who are pregnant:
- You should not travel to Cayman Islands.
- If you must travel, talk to your doctor first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip.
- If you have a partner who lives in or has traveled to Cayman Islands, either use condoms (or other barriers to prevent infection) or do not have sex (vaginal, anal, or oral) during your pregnancy.