Last week we reported on local Zika virus transmission in Papua New Guinea based on retrospective testing on samples from patients with symptoms from July 2014 and March 2016.
This has prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to issue a travel notice for the country Friday.
CDC notes mosquitoes that spread Zika usually do not live at elevations above 6,500 feet (2,000 meters) because of environmental conditions. Travelers whose itineraries are limited to areas above this elevation are at minimal risk of getting Zika from a mosquito.
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. The best way to avoid Zika virus infection is to prevent mosquito bites.
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. Travelers to areas with Zika should monitor for symptoms or sickness upon return. If they become sick, they should tell their healthcare professional when and where they have traveled.
CDC has received reports of Zika virus being spread by sexual contact with sick returning travelers. Until more is known, CDC continues to recommend that pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant take the following precautions.
Pregnant women should not travel to any area with Zika, if you must travel to or live in one of these areas, talk to your healthcare provider first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites and if you have a male partner who lives in or has traveled to an area with Zika, either use condoms, the right way, every time you have sex or do not have sex during your pregnancy.
Women trying to get pregnant and their male partner should talk to your healthcare provider about your plans to become pregnant and the risk of Zika virus infection and you and your male partner should strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites.