Travel Update – Zika virus cases in Florida linked to local mosquito transmission

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) echoes CDC’s recent recommendation that pregnant women avoid travel to an area in Miami, Florida, because of the risk of Zika virus.  This recommendation comes after the Florida Department of Health identified that Zika virus is being spread by mosquitoes in Wynwood, an area in one neighborhood of Miami. CDC recently announced that pregnant women should not travel to this area and has issued new guidance for people who traveled to this area any time after June 15, 2016.  This date represents the earliest time symptoms can start and the maximum 2-week incubation period for Zika virus.
 
CDC recommends that visitors to areas with Zika virus take special health precautions, particularly for pregnant women, their sexual partners, and individuals who may become pregnant.  Zika virus has been linked to birth defects, including microcephaly.
 
“We know that Miami is a popular travel destination for Illinoisans and we urge all residents to follow updated CDC recommendations, given that it is now possible to contract Zika virus in the United States,” said IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D.  “We want to make sure that people traveling to the Miami area have the facts so that they can protect themselves from becoming infected.”
 
Recommendations for pregnant women and their partners:

  • Pregnant women should not travel to this area. 
  • Pregnant women and their partners traveling to this area should follow steps to prevent mosquito bites.
  • Women and men who traveled to this area and who have a pregnant sex partner should use condoms or other barriers to prevent infection every time they have sex or not have sex during the pregnancy.
  • Pregnant women who frequently travel to this area should be tested in the first and second trimester of pregnancy.
  • Pregnant women with possible Zika virus exposure and signs or symptoms of Zika virus should be tested for Zika virus.
  • Pregnant women who traveled to or had unprotected sex with a partner that traveled to or lives in this area should talk to their health care provider and should be tested for Zika virus.

Couples thinking about getting pregnant

  • Women with Zika should wait at least 8 weeks and men with Zika should wait at least 6 months after symptoms began before they try to get pregnant.
  • Women and men who traveled to this area or other areas where Zika is being transmitted should talk to their providers before they try to get pregnant.

Upon returning to Illinois, travelers should take precautions to prevent the spread of Zika virus, even if they don’t think they have it.  Travelers should watch for symptoms after returning home, call a health care provider immediately if they suspect Zika virus, use insect repellent for three weeks after travel, and use condoms during sex.
 
The public health community’s knowledge of Zika virus is evolving through this ongoing investigation.  As more information becomes available, CDC will modify these recommendations and IDPH will continue to issue updates. 
 
For more information, go to the IDPH website - http://www.dph.illinois.gov/diseases-and-conditions/zika-cdc.  
 

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