The World Health Organization said in September that Europe was at “very high” risk of seeing several large-scale outbreaks of the highly contagious zika virus this winter.
Now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a similar warning, warning of the risk for new infections among travelers to the United States and especially in Miami and other South Florida areas.
There was a widespread Zika outbreak on the island of Dominica earlier this year, and in August French Polynesia also was hit hard.
“Conditions and epidemics in South and Central America and the Caribbean will continue to pose an elevated risk of transmitting zika virus disease to travellers to these regions,” the CDC said in a notice posted on its website.
It noted that visitors from those areas are “the most likely source” of travel-associated infections for travelers to the United States.
Those risks include:
– Travel to areas of high and moderate risk for Zika virus infection or travel associated with potential travel-associated virus infections. – Travel by people who have had recent travel to areas of high or moderate risk. – Travel by persons likely to have been exposed to mosquitoes. – Travel by people who’ve been within the last seven days of having a traveler’s rash. – Travel by persons who’ve had three or more episodes of Zika virus disease prior to travel.
It’s not entirely clear how many people who have traveled to those locations have arrived in the United States or any number of other areas.
Nor is it clear why CDC said it is now advising travelers to particular destinations rather than just pointing out places like Miami, South Florida and Key West that are high risk.
“We are aware of outbreak activities across certain area and jurisdictions and continue to monitor this situation,” the agency said.
Travelers can reduce their risk of infection by reducing their chances of being bitten by mosquitoes.
They should wear long-sleeved, light-colored clothing at night and use insect repellent with DEET or its active ingredient, picaridin.
The CDC also advised tourists to learn the signs and symptoms of the virus, so they can follow them to travel care clinics. The agency said to wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing and avoid places with standing water.
It stressed that the protection extends to pregnant women.
Another policy guideline cited by the CDC was that it is taking steps to educate airline crew members to avoid mosquito bites in areas at risk for future outbreaks.