Tag Archives: zika

Tips For Healthy Travel (Part 2)

Traveling can greatly increase your risk on contracting contagious or mosquito-carried illnesses, which can not only put a damper on your trip but also could seriously impact your health. There are various precautionary measures you can take to prevent illness (check out our “Tips For Healthy Travels (Part 1)” if you haven’t already caught it). Some things you can do to decrease your chances of sickness during your vacation are:

Be Careful of Local Eats

Food poisoning due to contamination is one of the leading causes of traveler gastrointestinal distress via such bacteria as E. coli, shigella and salmonella. Be careful what you are eating by watching food choices and checking out the cleanliness of the establishment before placing your order. Avoid pre-made salads, foods that could have been sitting out all day (like at amusement parks), meats that could potentially be under-cooked or shared buffet-style foods.

Don’t Let The Sun Make You Sick

A couple other types of illness that can ruin your trip and cause you undue strife are caused by the sun. You can easily get heatstroke if you are spending longs days in the hot sun, or exercising in hot weather without proper hydration or sun protection. Heatstroke can be mild, causing nausea and discomfort or it can be serious, causing syncope (fainting spells), vomiting and diarrhea, fevers and worse. Similarly, bad sun burns can be debilitating, causing similar symptoms. If both of these conditions are severe enough, they may even require hospitalization. Be sure to protect yourself against the sun with plenty of sun block, hats, proper clothing and perhaps most importantly, adequate hydration (with clean bottled water, not foreign tap water).

Protect Yourself Against Mosquito-Carried Illness

Mosquitos can strike anywhere, but if you are traveling to a high-risk part of the world you have a higher chance of contracting unpleasant or dangerous illnesses like the Zika virus, Dengue Fever or malaria. Some preventative measures you can take against mosquito bites are to sleep under mosquito nets when needed, continually coat yourself in insect repellant, hang out in air conditioned spaces when the mosquitos are especially bad (they won’t follow), and wear covering clothing when possible.

Get Up-To-Date On Vaccinations

Possibly the single most important preventative measure against getting sick while traveling is to get the proper vaccinations and immunizations, especially region-specific vaccines to protect you against conditions such as yellow fever when traveling to places where it is especially prevalent. Be sure to visit your doctor about 2 months before traveling to ensure you get the proper vaccinations in time before traveling.

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Zika – What You Need to Know

Pixelated Zika

Zika is a virus of the Flaviviridae family that is transmitted by the Aedes mosquito. It has been likened to the Dengue and West Nile viruses which are both contracted from the same type of mosquito. 


According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the first documented human case of Zika was in Uganda in 1952. There have been various outbreaks since then in over 20 countries in Africa, the Americas, Asia and other areas of the Pacific. Unlike in some continents, the virus has been well contained in North America. There have only been 31 documented cases of Zika in the United States and none of them were contracted locally, only by those who had recently traveled to highly infectious areas such as Brazil.

Zika Symptoms

Luckily, Zika is not known to be a deadly virus. Only about one fifth of people who contract Zika will exhibit any symptoms at all, and symptoms that are present are generally mild, lasting for about a week. These include low-grade fever, rash, mild joint and muscle pain and headache. There has been a form of temporary paralysis called Guillain-Barré syndrome associated with Zika as well, but it is quite rare.

Pregnant Women – Be Extra Cautious

The worst suspected complication of Zika concerns pregnant women. Though further research is underway, medical scientists have established a connection between Zika and the rise of a previously rare fetal neurodevelopmental disorder called microcephaly. Babies born with microcephaly have a smaller, deformed skull and often have cognitive impairment due to their underdeveloped brains. 

What Are Authorities Doing About the Issue?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), aside from working to develop a Zika vaccine, experts are:

  • Prioritizing Zika research
  • Bettering laboratories across the world to detect and handle the virus
  • Enhancing surveillance of Zika outbreaks and potential complications
  • Working to control Aedes mosquito populations
  • Preparing clinical follow-up care for those infected with the virus.

How to Protect Yourself

As with any mosquito-carried virus the number one preventative measure is avoiding mosquito bites, especially when traveling to highly infectious areas. Use insect repellant, wear clothing that covers your skin, and sleep in tents with screens or mosquito nets when exposed to the elements. The WHO advises to cover or frequently clean containers that hold fluids such as flower pots, as mosquitos can easily breed in those environments. The immunocompromised should be especially cautious, as they may be more vulnerable to contracting any virus. 


There is no vaccine developed yet for Zika, and authorities warn that there may not be one for at least a year or two. Infected people rarely require hospitalization, and can usually overcome the virus with plenty of bedrest, lots of fluids and acetaminophen-based over the counter pain relievers. However, should you become infected with Zika and your symptoms don’t improve within a week, you should consult your doctor (or one of our highly skilled DocChat physicians).