Federal health officials have issued an advisory for travelers to the Caribbean island of Montserrat after public health officials have reported that mosquitoes in Montserrat are infected with Zika virus and are spreading it to people.

Montserrat Image/Lencer

Because Zika virus is primarily spread by mosquitoes, CDC recommends that travelers to Montserrat protect themselves from mosquito bites.

  • Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Use EPA-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE, also called para-menthane-diol [PMD]), IR3535, or 2-undecanone (methyl nonyl ketone). Always use as directed.
    • Pregnant and breastfeeding women can use all EPA-registered insect repellents, including DEET, according to the product label.
    • Most repellents, including DEET, can be used on children older than 2 months. (OLE should not be used on children younger than 3 years.)
  • Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents). You can buy pre-treated clothing and gear or treat them yourself.
  • Stay in places with air conditioning and window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
  • Sleep under a mosquito bed net if air conditioned or screened rooms are not available or if sleeping outdoors.
  • Mosquito netting can be used to cover babies younger than 2 months old in carriers, strollers, or cribs to protect them from mosquito bites.

Sexual transmission of Zika virus is also possible, so you should use condoms or not have sex during your trip.

Many people infected with Zika virus do not get sick. Among those who do develop symptoms, sickness is usually mild, with symptoms that last for several days to a week.

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 Montserrat.
    • If you must travel, talk to your doctor first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip.
    • Because Zika can also be spread by sex, if you have a partner who lives in or has traveled to Montserrat, either use condoms or do not have sex (vaginal, anal, or oral) or share sex toys during your pregnancy.
  • Women who are trying to become pregnant:
    • Before you or your partner travel, talk to your doctor about your plans to become pregnant and the risk of Zika virus infection.
    • See CDC guidance for how long you should wait to get pregnant after travel to Montserrat.
    • You and your partner should strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites.
  • If you have traveled to Montserrat and have a pregnant partner, use condoms or don’t have sex (vaginal, anal, or oral) or share sex toys during the pregnancy.