The Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) is warning Kentuckians, particularly pregnant women and women planning to become pregnant, to avoid traveling to areas of the world with active Zika virus transmission.


The virus is primarily spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. “We strongly warn everyone – especially pregnant women or women planning to become pregnant – avoid traveling to countries where Zika virus is circulating. “With Kentuckians competing in and attending the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil this summer, we must remain vigilant and take steps to protect ourselves. This includes being knowledgeable about where the virus is spreading, consulting with a healthcare provider, and following public health recommendations to avoid mosquito bites,” said Dr. Hiram Polk, DPH commissioner.

“If you are unsure about the presence of Zika in the area in which you are traveling, err on the side of caution. Use repellent and wear protective clothing to avoid mosquito bites,” Dr. Polk said. “Furthermore, travelers should continue these practices for three weeks upon returning home to avoid spreading Zika locally.”

International travelers to at-risk countries who develop fever, rash, joint pain, red inflamed eyes and other acute symptoms within two weeks of return to Kentucky should consult with their medical provider.

Increasing scientific evidence suggests a link between infection in pregnant women and infants born with birth defects such as microcephaly. Microcephaly is a condition where the head is smaller than normal and is very likely to be associated with significant central nervous system abnormalities and life-long complications.

Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent infection and no specific antiviral treatment for Zika infection. Its most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes, although many infected individuals have no symptoms at all.