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The Bite of Zika: Healthy Habits for Travel

  • Published
  • By SrA Kathleen Fury
  • 27th Special Operations Medical Group[

Are you planning on traveling soon? If so, your Public Health Office would like to ensure you are prepared for any travel related health alert you may encounter.

The Zika virus has made its way to the United States. The Zika virus is spread primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito, but can be spread by sexual transmission as well. The mosquitos that carry the Zika virus are most commonly found in south-eastern states, such as Florida, Alabama and Mississippi; however, they have also been found sporadically in New Mexico.

The Public Health Office is actively trapping mosquitos across the base and submitting samples to a Department of Defense laboratory for testing in order to determine if there are any possible threats in the local area. All test results from mosquitos submitted by Cannon AFB and the New Mexico Department of Health have come back negative for the Zika virus.

Symptoms of the Zika virus include mild illness, fever, rash, joint pain, and red/pink eyes (conjunctivitis). The symptoms usually last 2-7 days. Severe cases of Zika can last up to a month, and may require hospitalization. Since Zika was first discovered, it has been found in tropical areas all over the world. Now it can be found here in the United States, right at our back door.

There have been at least eleven confirmed cases of locally acquired Zika virus in Miami, Fla., since July 29. If you plan on traveling to that area or any other location that has confirmed Zika cases, such as Brazil, please take caution. Per instruction from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pregnant women should avoid non-essential travel to areas with active Zika virus transmission. With the 2016 Olympics being held in Brazil, it is important to remember that Zika remains prevalent across that country.

If you plan on traveling to an area with confirmed Zika cases, please exercise the following measures to protect yourself:

Take All Precautions to Prevent Mosquito Bites
• Avoid areas with stagnant (still) water
• Wear long-sleeves
• Ensure lodging is air conditioned, or use screens on windows and doors
• Use Environmental Protection Agency registered insect repellents. (i.e., permethrin for clothing and DEET for skin)
• Treat clothing and gear with permethrin or use permethrin-treated items.
Protect Your Health
• Use condoms during sexual encounters or abstain from sex for 8 weeks following your trip.
• If showing symptoms of Zika, consult your healthcare provider immediately.
• Pregnant women who travel to infected areas should consult their healthcare provider to be checked for Zika virus during their first and second trimester of pregnancy.
For all traveler’s health related questions, please contact the Public Health Office at 575-784-4926 or come visit our Travel Medicine Clinic found in the Force Health section. By working with your provider team, we will ensure you are prepared for any health alerts you may encounter during your travels with appropriate education, possibly vaccinations and/or medications, if needed.
For more information on the Zika virus please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at: