Zika Virus Update

The Office of International Education and Development together with Student Health Services at Appalachian State University are monitoring the Zika Virus situation as it pertains to study abroad programs travelling to Zika-affected locations.  This is a very fluid situation with new information becoming available frequently.  At present, there are no plans to cancel programs or withdraw students from affected countries.

Zika is a disease caused by the Zika virus and is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito.  The virus can also be spread through blood transfusion and, in very limited numbers, sexual contact.  The most common symptoms of the Zika virus are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes).  The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week.  Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued a Level 2 – Practice Enhanced Precautions travel health notice for several countries in the Caribbean, Pacific, and Central and South America over the past few weeks.  A map of countries and territories with active Zika virus transmission can be found on the CDC website.

As with other mosquito borne illnesses, travelers should take precautions to avoid mosquito bites to the extent possible.  What type of insect repellent should you use?

FOR PROTECTION AGAINST TICKS AND MOSQUITOES: Use a repellent that contains DEET (Minimum 20% concentration - Recommended 30 - 35% concentration) for protection that lasts up to several hours. Products containing DEET include Off!, Cutter, Sawyer, and Ultrathon.

Zika can be also transmitted from a pregnant mother to her baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth, potentially causing birth defects. Due to the risks of Zika virus infection during pregnancy, the CDC advises that pregnant women, or those planning to become pregnant, consider postponing travel to areas affected by Zika.

For additional information and updates on the Zika virus please visit the following resources:

Appalachian State University recommends that all travelers register with the US embassy in the country they are visiting to receive the most recent health and safety updates during their time abroad.  Registration can be completed visa the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) https://step.state.gov/step/.  Additional information about Appalachian State University Crisis Management Protocols can be found on the Office of International Education and Development website.

Update from HTH Insurance - "12 Things You Need to Know About the Zika Virus"