Zika and travel to the sun: advice for pregnant women

Health 16 November, 2016

miami-beach-mosquitoes-test-positive-for-zika-virusYou are pregnant or plan to become and you want to go to a sunny destination this winter?

Zika virus, present in the Caribbean, is the origin of cases of microcephaly (abnormally small brain) in babies whose mothers were infected during pregnancy. Francois Lalande, pharmacist owner of Montreal, enlighten you on traveler behavior to adopt in the era of the virus transmitted by mosquitoes, for which unfortunately there is no vaccine or treatment.

1- “The best advice I can give to pregnant women or wishing the future is to steer clear of traveling in areas at risk,” said Francois Lalande pharmacist.

2- Always inform risk countries and destinations “without Zika.” Right now, destinations “sun” described as “without Zika” are: the southern United States (the Carolinas, Georgia, northern Florida) and California. “But we must constantly monitor this list, because it changes very quickly.”

3- If they can not avoid travel to a destination at risk, the pregnant woman and her partner must turn to abstinence or condom use. “Even if the woman is already pregnant, this can be dangerous for the baby. Same thing if the man went alone in a region at risk and he comes home while the woman is pregnant. They will practice abstinence or use condoms until the end of pregnancy. ”

4- Go see your pharmacist and ask any questions you may have. “Many people do not know that pharmacists can, since the adoption of Law 41, give travel advice and prescribe medication to travelers, says François Lalande. We are here to provide the basic tips and travel advice on, among other sun destinations. ”

5- couples planning pregnancy should be aware that because of the virus incubation time, the woman must wait at least 2 months after the return of the risk region before attempting to conceive. As for the male partner returning from a risk area (or couple who have traveled together in an area at risk), it will have to wait six months before trying to conceive, even if the man has no symptoms.

7-As prevention, the couple must: avoid bites by wearing long clothing and pale, wearing a hat and closed shoes (avoid sandals), apply insect repellent (DEET 30% for children aged 6 months 2 years: 10% DEET more than once a day, and 2 to 12 years: 10% up to three applications per day), stay in a well-screened and in closed, air-conditioned areas and camping if carry a laptop screen.

8. Pregnant or wanting to become pregnant should know that they can go to a country at risk, come home and have no symptoms, but have nevertheless been bitten.

9-A person with symptoms, or possibly infected should go see a doctor. Also be aware that symptoms may be between 3 to 12 days after return.

Remember: you need to know
– A person infected with the Zika virus can be symptomatic or asymptomatic (have no symptoms).

– 20 to 25% of people manifest symptoms. These can be: fever, muscle pain, itching (often in the shoulders and upper body), eye pain and rash (small pimples on the hands).

– On average, one speaks of a healing week required when there are symptoms.

– In humans, the virus remains in the semen for 6 months.

– Complications: Zika virus is causing cases of Guillan-Barré syndrome and birth defects (microcephaly, brain underdeveloped) in infants whose mothers were infected during pregnancy.

– At the time of this writing, this is the Caribbean that are affected by Zika (Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico and the small islands around). In South America, the least affected destinations are, for now, Argentina and Chile.

– More it’s hot, the risk of virus transmission by mosquitoes is high.

For more information: voyage.gc.ca/voyager