You’ve been hearing less and less about the Zika virus in the news, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take precautions this summer, especially if you’ll be traveling to South America.
Brazil has announced that the national emergency caused by Zika is over in their country. The number of Zika cases has dropped by 95 percent between January and April of this year, compared to the same time period in 2016. But that doesn’t mean the risk is over.
If a traveler returns with the virus from South America, an area prone to Zika, to an area in the Southeast where Zika-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitos are present, then the local mosquito population can begin to carry and spread it.
Summer creates an ideal climate for the Aedes aegypti. The U.S. Golf Coast has been identified as an area where the species’ population could begin to carry the virus and pose a threat.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend applying mosquito repellant, wearing long-sleeved clothes and sleeping under a mosquito net. Travelers should also avoid areas with standing water where mosquitos breed. The virus can also be sexually transmitted, and officials recommend not engaging in sex with those infected or using protection.
Zika is already present in Florida and Texas, where officials are prepared to closely monitor the areas for the virus throughout the summer.
Photo by coniferconifer CC BY 2.0
Madison Gable is a freelance writer based out of Athens, Georgia.