Poughkeepsie… With spring travel season underway, the Dutchess County Department of Behavioral & Community Health reminds residents that Zika virus is still a significant health risk in many popular travel destinations, as well as other places further off the beaten path.
“It is still vitally important for pregnant women or couples considering pregnancy to pay close attention to all health recommendations related to Zika virus,” said Margaret Hirst, LCSW-R, Acting Commissioner of the Department of Behavioral & Community Health. “We recommend residents consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for travel advisories and guidance whenever they are planning a trip.”
The CDC has updated its Zika travel guidance and now recommends that pregnant women not travel to any area where there is a risk of Zika virus infection. This includes areas where the virus has been newly recognized, areas where the virus was present prior to the start of the 2015 epidemic, and areas where the virus is likely to be circulating but has not been documented. Residents can search for location-specific Zika information and travel recommendations using the CDC’s interactive World Map of Areas with Zika Risk at: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/world-map-areas-with-zika
The Department continues to stress the importance of mosquito bite prevention for all residents traveling to areas where Zika virus is circulating. Hirst recommends using an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered insect repellent to prevent mosquito bites. Individuals can select an insect repellent by using the EPA tool located at www.epa.gov. Other ways to prevent mosquito bites include wearing long pants and long-sleeved clothing, treating clothing with permethrin, staying in places with air conditioning and window/door screens, or sleeping under a bed net if such accommodations are not available.
"Zika virus is not spread from person to person by casual contact,” added Hirst. “Zika virus can be passed from one person to another through sexual contact, therefore we recommend abstinence or consistent condom usage for anyone with recent travel history to Zika-affected areas. For pregnant women, it is especially important that condoms be used for the duration of their pregnancy.”
For more information on how you can protect yourself from Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases, visit www.dutchessny.gov/mosquito or call (845) 486-3438.