Spring Break Travel – Information about Zika virus

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

As many members of our community prepare to travel for spring break or other purposes, we are sharing resources to help you stay informed about Zika virus disease so you can take proactive steps to keep yourself and others healthy.

Ohio State is working in partnership with Columbus Public Health, Franklin County Public Health and other local and state partners to provide information and guidance for students, faculty and staff. Information is available at: https://www.osu.edu/zikainfo and is consistent with the advice of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Ohio State’s website also contains Frequently Asked Questions and additional resources, and we feel it is especially important to highlight the information below.

What is Zika virus disease (Zika)?

Zika is a disease caused by the Zika virus and is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. Mosquitoes that spread Zika virus are aggressive daytime biters. They can also bite at night. The CDC maintains a comprehensive list of Zika-affected areas: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-information.

Sexual transmission of Zika virus from a male partner is possible as well, but mosquito bites remain the primary way that Zika virus is transmitted. Although sexual transmission of Zika virus is possible, there is no indication that it can spread from person to person through casual contact.

Because there currently is no vaccine or treatment for Zika virus, the best way to avoid infection is to prevent mosquito bites and to practice safe sex. The CDC continues to update its advice related to sexual transmission of Zika. Its most up-to-date recommendations can be found on the CDC website.

CDC travel recommendations:

  • Pregnant women should avoid travel to Zika-affected areas for the duration of their pregnancy, or if travel cannot be avoided, they should contact their physician upon return to get tested for the virus.
  • Women who are planning to become pregnant and their male partners should talk to their healthcare provider before traveling.
  • Men who have traveled to Zika-affected areas should abstain from sex or use a condom correctly every time.
  • All travelers should take maximum precautions to avoid bug bites, including:
    • Insect repellent Use and Safety: Use US EPA-registered insect repellents according to the product label. Of the products registered with the EPA, those containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide longer-lasting protection. DEET-based insect repellants are safe in pregnant women when applied according to manufacturer’s guidelines.
    • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
    • When possible, stay and sleep in facilities with air-conditioning or screened windows and doors. If not available, use mosquito netting.

Ohio State continues to monitor all developments in this situation and will continue to communicate information as needed, but you are strongly encouraged to use the resources, follow the guidance outlined above and stay up-to-date on developments regarding Zika.

As always, the health and safety of all of our students, faculty, staff, patients, visitors and the community is our priority.

Gladys M. Gibbs, MD, MS
Director, Student Health Services
Office of Student Life

Andrew Thomas, MD
Senior Associate Vice President for Health Sciences,
The Ohio State University
Chief Medical Officer,
The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

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