As part of its continued investigation into the Latin American Zika virus outbreak, the CDC recently added the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Dominican Republic to its travel alert list.
After previously issued a Level II travel alert -- which encourages “enhanced precautions” for those embarking on trips to Latin American and Caribbean nations -- the CDC has now confirmed that anyone journeying to areas where the infection has been verified is at risk of becoming infected with the Zika virus.
The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warns that travelers who venture into the affected regions and contract the virus may not actually become sick until after they return stateside. Additionally, some victims experience no symptoms, while others develop fever, rash, joint pain, reddened eyes, muscle pain and headaches. With symptoms lasting between a few days and a week, victims experience the virus as a mild illness. Although hospitalization is rarely needed, it is imperative to see a doctor if symptoms develop.
The CDC strongly advises women who are pregnant or are planning pregnancy to avoid traveling to the following countries, in addition to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Dominican Republic: Puerto Rico, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Cape Verde, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Martin, Samoa, Suriname and Venezuela.
Additionally, those women and the general population alike should follow the CDC’s recommended steps to avoid and prevent mosquito bites during travel until more information is known and to consult with their health care practitioners prior to venturing to those territories.